Former Spokane Shock player Johnie Kirton was found dead in a hotel room in California, two days after scoring the winning overtime touchdown for the San Jose SaberCats, the San Jose Mercury News reported Tuesday.
Kirton, who played in Spokane in 2009 after a successful collegiate career at the University of Washington, was found Monday by a teammate.
Read the report from MercuryNews.com
The team issued a statement after hearing the news:
"It is with great shock and sadness that we confirm that Johnie Kirton has passed away," said Owner/Head Coach Darren Arbet. "He was such a great kid, and in the short time he was in San Jose he was such a valued member of our organization's family. Johnie was a great team guy and hard-nosed player, and he will be sorely missed. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Johnie's family in this difficult time."
San Jose acquired Kirton from Arizona on May 10.
The AFL also issued a statement:
"The Arena Football League is deeply saddened by the news that we've lost one of our players this morning. Johnie Kirton, 26, made lasting memories over three seasons with the Chicago Rush, Arizona Rattlers, and San Jose SaberCats. Information about his passing is limited at this time, but we hope that everyone will respect the privacy of the Kirton family and all those who knew Johnie as his loss is grieved."