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Keion Carpenter (1977 - 2016)

Getty / Rick Stewart

Keion Carpenter (1977 - 2016)

Keion Carpenter, a former defensive back with the NFL's Buffalo Bills and Atlanta Falcons, died Dec. 29, 2016, in Miami, Florida, while vacationing with his family, according to multiple news sources. He was 39.

Carpenter, who also excelled as a special teams player, collapsed Dec. 28 and died the following day.

He played for the Buffalo Bills from 1999 to 2001. In 2002, the team traded him to the Atlanta Falcons; he played on that team from 2002 to 2005.

During his professional career, Carpenter had 206 tackles, 14 interceptions, and one touchdown.

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He was born Oct. 31, 1977, in Baltimore, Maryland. He played football for Virginia Tech, where he tied a school record for most blocked kicks with six of them.

Carpenter retired from the game three years after having successful spinal fusion surgery. He later created the Carpenter House Inc., a nonprofit organization that helps underprivileged families as they seek home ownership.

Former Hokies coach Frank Beamer released a statement Thursday praising Carpenter.

“Cheryl and I were saddened to learn of the passing of Keion Carpenter," Beamer said. "Keion was one of the rocks around which we built our program at Virginia Tech in the 1990s.

"He was a tenacious punt blocker and a relentless player on defense. … His work with The Carpenter House and other charitable organizations to help those in need truly embodied the Virginia Tech spirit. Our condolences to Keion’s family on the loss of a great Hokie.”

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