Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers Player Keith McCants Dead at 53 After Suspected Overdose

Keith McCants was found dead early Thursday morning inside his home in St. Petersburg, Florida

Keith McCants
Photo: getty

Former NFL star Keith McCants has died at the age of 53.

McCants was found dead early Thursday morning inside his home in St. Petersburg, Florida, Deputy Amanda Sinni, a spokesperson for the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office, tells PEOPLE.

Deputies responded to the scene around 5:10 a.m. local time after receiving a call about an unresponsive male. McCants was pronounced deceased upon their arrival, according to Sinni.

Investigators believe McCants died of a drug overdose, though authorities are waiting on confirmation from the medical examiner's office, Sinni says.

A spokesperson for the Pinellas County Medical Examiner's Office confirms to PEOPLE that they are investigating the case. McCants' official cause of death has yet to be determined.

McCants, who played football for University of Alabama before going professional, was the fourth overall pick in the first round of the 1990 NFL draft by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers

As a linebacker, he played three seasons with the Buccaneers, recording 12 sacks and assisting in 156 tackles.

Keith McCants
Scott Halleran/getty

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He also played for the Houston Oilers and Arizona Cardinals before ending his football career in 1995.

Following his retirement from the sport, McCants became the first Black marine police officer in Alabama at the state's Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the Associated Press reports. However, due to past injuries, McCants had to retire from his post.

In recent years, McCants had been open about his struggles with depression, addiction, financial troubles and early-onset dementia after his departure from the NFL, as well as his several run-ins with the law for drug-related charges.

"The only thing I want to do now is take all my experiences — good and bad — and spread my story, make sure the next man doesn't have the same problems and go through the same things that I went through," he told AL.com last year. "I want people to go down a better direction than I had to go down."

In the wake of McCants' death, his close friend and St. Petersburg city councilman Robert Blackmon remembered him as a man who "lived a remarkable life" in a tribute shared on social media.

"If you truly knew Keith, one thing that would stand out to you was his patience. He rarely ever got truly upset. He would indulge others. He wanted to see happiness on the face of those around him. He knew how much sadness there was in our world. And how much he had endured himself," Blackmon wrote on Facebook.

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, please contact the SAMHSA substance abuse helpline at 1-800-662-HELP.

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