Perhaps it came as no surprise that Johnie Kirton, the fullback from San Jose who was found dead in a hotel room in Santa Clara on Monday, was named the Arena Football League's player of the week.
Kirton, who was recently traded to San Jose from Arizona, and who helped Spokane to an af2 championship in 2009, scored the winning touchdown over the Chicago Rush last week. He received an overwhelming amount of nominations for the Player of the Week award, according to the league font office.
News of Kirton's death came as a shock, especially to friend and former teammate Andy Olson, who now coaches in Spokane.
"It was a bad day yesterday for a lot of people," said Olson. "Johnie Kirton was a good friend of mine – I played a full season in 2009 with him. I thought about him all day yesterday. It's one of those things where you just can't believe that kind of stuff happens. Johnie was a great guy, and I'll always remember him."
Olson said Kirton always had a great attitude and was always smiling when he played with the team in Spokane.
"He's going to be missed in the football world and we pray for his family – especially for his family and his daughter."
Few details are known about Kirton's death. The San Jose Mercury News reported that police in Santa Clara said there was no indication that any crime had been committed in connection to his death. SaberCats coach Darren Arbet said it appeared he died of natural causes.
An email address has been created allowing family, friends and fans to share their photos and memories of Johnie Kirton, which will be made into a book for his two-year-old daughter, Jayde. The email is email@example.com.