NFL Star Keion Carpenter, 39, Dies After Falling During 'Freak Accident' on Family Vacation

Coach Beamer called Carpenter a "tenacious punt blocker and a relentless player on defense" before adding, "more importantly, he had a heart of gold"

Keion Carpenter #29
Photo: Doug Pensinger/Allsport

Former NFL player Keion Carpenter died on Thursday morning at a hospital in Miami. He was 39.

The Baltimore native, who spent six seasons with the Buffalo Bills and Atlanta Falcons, was on vacation with his family in Miami when he fell and fell into a coma while playing with his son on Wednesday, his cousin told the Baltimore Sun.

“They were running to the car when (Carpenter) slipped, fell, hit his head and slipped into a coma. It was just a freak accident,” said Jamila Smith. “He was always healthy; he went to the doctor, ate well and worked out.”

“It is with regret that we as a family announce that at 6:47 am Keion Eric Carpenter was pronounced dead, at Jackson South Community Hospital in Miami, Florida. Keion collapsed while on a family vacation and remained in a coma for 24 hours. Keion(‘s) remains will be flown back to Baltimore for burial,” read a statement released by Carpenter’s family, according to

Before heading to the NFL, Carpenter was a star athlete at Virginia Tech.

Former Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer released a statement on Carpenter’s death.

“Cheryl and I were saddened to learn of the passing of Keion Carpenter,” he said. “Keion was one of the rocks around which we built our program at Virginia Tech in the 1990s.”

Beamer called Carpenter a “tenacious punt blocker and a relentless player on defense” before adding, “more importantly, he had a heart of gold.”

The coach recognized Carpenter’s work with The Carpenter House, a non-profit organization the football player founded to aid low-income families and children in his hometown of Baltimore.

“His work with The Carpenter House and other charitable organizations to help those in need truly embodied the Virginia Tech spirit,” Beamer said.

Carpenter leaves behind his wife Tonia and four children — Kymiah, Kennedy, Kierra and Kyle.

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