‘Loyal son, father, teammate, friend’ – NFL Hall of Famer Cortez Kennedy found dead at 48

By Associated Press and Ann Schmidt For Dailymail.com

NFL Hall of Fame defensive tackle Cortez Kennedy has died in Orlando, Florida.

The Orlando Police Department confirmed that the 48-year-old Kennedy was found dead Tuesday morning.

Police public information officer Wanda Miglio said the circumstances surrounding his death are still unknown.

An investigation is being conducted, but there is nothing suspicious about his death.

Hall of Fame defensive tackle Cortez Kennedy, pictured, was found dead in Orlando, Florida Tuesday morning

Kennedy was drafted third overall by the Seattle Seahawks and he spent all 11 seasons of his career with the team   He is pictured in 2012 at his induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame

Miglio said Kennedy was ‘unattended’ when he died, according to USA Today. His family is currently traveling to Orlando, TMZ reports.

Orlando Police also tweeted around 10.30am to confirm Kennedy’s passing.

‘OPD can confirm the passing of Cortez Kennedy today. Nothing suspicious to report. OPD conducting investigation into his unattended passing,’ the tweet said.

The athlete from the University of Miami was drafted by the Seattle Seahawks in 1990 as the number three pick over all. He remained with the team for the rest of his career.

He recorded 58 career sacks and 11 forced fumbles. Kennedy was an eight-time Pro Bowler during his 11 seasons in the NFL.

He was named 1992 Defensive Player of the Year, is a member of the 1990s All-Decade Team and was inducted into the Seahawks’ Ring of Honor as its 10th member in 2006, according to NFL.com.

In 2012 Kennedy was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

After his induction, he said: ‘Now I can say I’m a Hall of Famer and say whoo, I’m in baby, I’m in for life.’

Kennedy recorded 58 career sacks and 11 forced fumbles and was an eight-time Pro Bowler during his 11 seasons in the NFL. He is pictured before a game against the Redskins in 1995

With the news of Kennedy's passing, many have taken to Twitter to express their condolences, like the Seattle Seahawks who posted a statement saying Kennedy was a 'pillar' of the team's franchise. The team also changed their Twitter profile picture to Kennedy's jersey number, 96

Though his last year with the Seahawks was in 2000, he continued to be present with the team. He was around for training camp and would even occasionally show up in the locker room during the regular season, according to  KOMO News.

He was also an informal consultant with the New Orleans Saints for the past few years because of his close relationship with general manager Mickey Loomis, who had spent 15 years with the Seahawks organization, according to ESPN.

Pro Football Hall of Fame President and CEO David Baker gave a statement about Kennedy’s passing, extending condolences to the family, friends and fans of the athlete.

‘The entire Hall of Fame family is stunned and deeply saddened to learn the news of Cortez Kennedy’s passing,’ he said.

‘Cortez will be remembered not only for all his great achievements on the football field but how he handled himself off the field. He epitomized the many great values this game teaches which serves as inspiration to millions of fans.

‘Although he left this earth far too soon, the Hall of Fame pledges to keep his legacy alive forever in Canton.’

After his induction into the Hall of Fame in 2012, he said: 'Now I can say I'm a Hall of Famer and say whoo, I'm in baby, I'm in for life.' He is pictured as an electee to the Hall of Fame before Super Bowl 46

His former team, the Seattle Seahawks, also wrote a statement about his passing, which they posted to Twitter. They also changed their picture to Kennedy’s jersey number, 96.

‘Cortez Kennedy has been a pillar of the Seahawks franchise since joining the team as a rookie in 1990,’ the statement said.

‘Tez was the heart and soul of the Seahawks through the 1990s and endeared himself to 12s all across the Pacific Northwest as a player who played with a selfless and relentless approach to the game.

‘Tez was an NFL Defensive Player of the Year, Pro Football Hall of Famer, and Seahawks ambassador, but more than his on-field accomplishments, he was a loyal son, father, teammate and friend to many, possessing a larger-than-life personality and an infectious laugh.

‘We extend our warmest thoughts and prayers to his parents, Ruby and Joe Harris, daughter Courtney, and entire family on the unfortunate loss of a life-long Seahawk.

‘We are proud to have been represented by such a special person.’

Fans and friends also took to Twitter after hearing the news of Kennedy’s passing Tuesday morning.

Athletes he played with and against, sports commentators, former coaches and even the National Football League expressed their condolences for Kennedy and his family on social media.

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