DALLAS — Family and friends of former Texas Christian University football star and NFL player Jeff Gladney took to social media after learning that he died in a crash in Downtown Dallas overnight Monday.
The fatal crash happened around 2:30 a.m. in the westbound services lanes of Woodall Rogers Freeway at Allen Street, according to the Dallas County Sheriff’s Office.
A teammate told WFAA that 25-year-old Gladney was one of two victims in the crash. The second victim was identified as 26-year-old Andrea Mercedes Palacios.
The sheriff's department said the cause of the crash remains under investigation but added that the victims' vehicle was reportedly speeding, clipped a car from behind, lost control and caught fire after crashing.
Gladney's cousin, Sharonda Francois, told WFAA that her family is reeling from such a sudden blow.
"He was very loved by us all," Francois said. "He was an all-around good kid and his contagious smile is what he was known for."
Francois told WFAA that the 25-year-old had just bought his mother a home and that Gladney's son just turned 1 in February.
"He really loved his son, a lot of young guys are really not into being parents —but he really loved him," Francois said.
"He hosted football camps, he took care of our kids at family gatherings. I mean money did not change him, he was still the same down to Earth cousin. He was just so well-loved."
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Gladney recently signed a two-year deal with the Arizona Cardinals. The team released the following statement, “We are devastated to learn of Jeff Gladney’s passing. Our hearts go out to his family, friends, and all who are mourning this tremendous loss.”
Gladney was a part of a historic draft for TCU in 2020, when the university had 10 players head to the NFL.
TCU Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Jeremiah Donati sent WFAA the following statement on the passing of Gladney:
“Our TCU Athletics family, and especially our football program, was very devastated to learn of the passing of Jeff Gladney. After earning his degree and continuing his playing career in the NFL, Jeff maintained his close ties to TCU. He loved everything about his alma mater. He was a frequent visitor to campus and was at our spring practices and spring game this year, proudly joined by his young son. He will be missed by our entire community. Our thoughts, prayers and deepest condolences go to Jeff’s family, friends and TCU teammates.”
Gladney went 31st overall to the Minnesota Vikings.
The Vikings posted the following tweet after learning of his death.
The sports world and those close to Gladney took to social media: