Former San Francisco 49er Jason Hairston has died. He was 47.
Hairston’s outdoor sporting company KUIU confirmed the news on Twitter Wednesday writing, “We are shocked and saddened to announce the tragic passing of KUIU founder Jason Hairston.”.
The company later revealed Hairston “took his own life” and “was found dead at his home in Dixon, CA on Sept. 4, 2018.” Hairston is survived by his wife Kirstyn and their two children.
Hairston, originally from southern California, spent his early years playing football. He attended the University of California, Davis and was named a starting linebacker for UC Davis Aggies football in 1993, according to KUIU’s website.
In 1995, Hairston was signed as a free agent to the San Francisco 49ers. He was traded to the Denver Broncos a year later and retired in 1996.
In 2016, Hairston revealed he was suffering from Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy [CTE] symptoms. The cognitive brain disease is commonly found in athletes and those in the military who have suffered repetitive hits to the head.
“I played linebacker, and the way I played the game, I led with my head. I played the way they tell us not to play now,” Hairston told CNBC in 2016. “I have all the symptoms of CTE.”
CTE can only be confirmed after a sufferer has died.
Following his football career, Hairston founded hunting clothing company KUIU in 2010. Hairston was featured on Forbes last year after KUIU did $50 million in sales.
He was also close friends with Donald Trump Jr. and the two went on a hunting trip in Canada just days before Hairston’s death.
Trump Jr. honored his late friend on Instagram by sharing a series of photos from their trip.
“Jason, I have no words. I will always remember our adventures and sharing a campfire with you. They will be some of my fondest experiences in the outdoors.”
“You were and will continue to be an inspiration to all outdoorsmen and women for generations to come. Thanks for the friendship and the memories buddy. I’m going to miss you R.I.P.”
Hairston’s family has asked fans to make donations to support CTE-related research at the Boston University Concussion Legacy Foundation.
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), text “help” to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 or go to suicidepreventionlifeline.org.