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Reche Caldwell played for several NFL teams, including the New England Patriots during the 2006 season

By Eric Todisco
June 07, 2020 04:46 PM
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Reche Caldwell
Credit: Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Former NFL wide receiver Donald "Reche" Caldwell died at age 41 on Saturday after being shot and killed in an "ambush" in Tampa, Florida, his mother Deborah told News Channel 8.

Deborah said that her son was shot in the leg and chest at his Tampa home just as he was heading out on a date with his girlfriend. He was later found by Tampa Police Department dead in his front yard.

Reche's last words were, "Tell everybody I love them," according to Deborah.

Tampa Police Department told NBC News that they are investigating the homicide and said it did "not appear to be a random act."

The New England Patriots, the team which Reche played for in 2006, honored the late athlete on Twitter. "We are deeply saddened to learn of the death of former Patriot Reche Caldwell. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends," the team wrote.

Tom Brady also paid tribute to his former teammate on his Instagram Story, sharing a photo of Reche and writing, "RIP" with hand praying emojis. He also shared a throwback photo of the pair hugging each other in uniform.

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After playing college football at the University of Florida, Reche was drafted by the San Diego Chargers in 2002. Four years later, he signed with the Patriots and was the team's leading receiver that year with 760 yards.

After he was released prior to the team's 2007 season, he had a one-year contract with the Washington Redskins and went to training camp with the St. Louis Rams in 2008.

Reche Caldwell
Credit: John Summers/Icon SMI/Icon Sport Media via Getty Images

In 2014, Reche was arrested for drug possession and intent to sell, according to the Tampa Bay Times. He was sentenced to 27 months in prison and three years probation.

Reche told ESPN in 2016, while he was still in prison, that he took responsibility for his illegal actions. "I'm not gonna blame football or concussions like everybody else for my mistakes," he said. "I don't blame my education or my hometown or my family. I have a great family. I had a great childhood. I grew up in a great place. This is about losing my way, being around bad people and making bad choices, and that's all on me."

In January, Reche pleaded guilty to one charge of conspiracy to commit health care fraud, along with several other former NFL players, who filed nearly $4 million in false insurance claims over a span of 18 months, according to ESPN.

He was scheduled to be sentenced this month.