Isiah “Butch” Roberston, the All-Pro linebacker who played seven seasons with the Los Angeles Rams, died on Thursday, his former team confirms. He was 69.
Robertson was driving a limousine near Mabank, Texas when he skidded on the rainy road and collided with two other vehicles in the fatal wreck, the NFL reported.
Lt. Lonny Haschel of the Texas Department of Public Safety told the football league that Robertson was allegedly driving at “an unsafe speed around a curve” before he came to a “rest partially in the roadway.” At that point, a truck then collided with Robertson’s limo, causing the vehicle to slide into oncoming traffic, before getting slammed by another car.
Following the wreck, Robertson was transported to an Athens hospital and later died. The truck driver was reportedly treated for minor injuries and eventually discharged, while the other driver was unhurt, KTLA reports.
According to Haschel, the crash had occurred shortly after Robertson spoke at a high school football banquet and was just miles from the House of Isaiah, a drug and alcohol recovery center for men founded by the former athlete.
Robertson often spoke about his recovery from addiction, according to Texas Star-Telegram, who captured his final speech at the banquet, which touched upon getting help and giving back because “life is about helping others.”
“If you have a setback, you don’t have to take a step back because God’s gonna come back,” he said, just hours before the fatal crash. “I want to tell you, God has a plan for every one of you.”
“After the game, they came back, they came into my house, they drug me to my feet and they took me to a treatment center,” he told the audience. “But that’s where God touched me at. That’s where I got set free at. And that’s why I give back.”
Following the devastating news, the Rams released a statement on Twitter about Robertson, who played for the team from 1971-1978, and his lifelong dedication to “helping others.”
“We are deeply saddened by the loss of one of our Legends, Isiah Robertson,” the organization wrote. “He will be remembered not only for the great player he was, helping our team achieve multiple division championships in the ’70s, but also by the work he did helping others through the House of Isaiah recovery center he founded in Texas.”
“Our thoughts are with his family, his friends and his teammates during this difficult time,” the Rams finished alongside two photos of their former linebacker.
On Friday, many spoke out on social media and paid tribute to Robertson, including his former teammates and Hall of Famers Jack Youngblood and Eric Dickerson.
“RIP Isiah Robertson. Came into the league @RamsNFL together. We pray for you and will miss you,” Youngblood, 68, wrote alongside a photo of the pair on the field in the 70s.
“Heartbroken to hear about the passing of @NFL @RamsNFL legend and my good friend Isiah Robertson,” Dickerson, 58, wrote in a separate tweet. “Isiah was such a good man. Isiah and his family are in my thoughts and prayers”
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Robertson was drafted by the Rams in 1971. In his tenure, the linebacker played in 111 games for the Rams, helping them to six consecutive NFC West titles between 1973-1978, according to the NFL. His noticeable presence on the field gained him several accolades, including becoming a four-time All-Pro honoree and a six-time Pro Bowler.
In 1979, Robertson was traded to the Buffalo Bills, where he played until his retirement after the 1982 season, the NFL said.
Most recently in 2017, Robertson was inducted into the Black College Football Hall of Fame.