Denver Broncos wide receiver Kenny McKinley was found dead yesterday at his Colorado home in a suspected suicide. He was 23.
Although McKinley’s death is still under investigation, Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson said it appeared to be the result of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
McKinley, who was selected by the Broncos in the fifth round of the 2009 National Football League draft, was put on injured reserve last month with a season-ending knee problem. He appeared in eight games as a rookie last season, being used mostly on special teams.
“Kenny had a promising future on the football field but, more importantly, he was a great teammate whose smile and personality could light up the room,” Broncos coach Josh McDaniels said in a statement. “This is a tragic loss for our football team and his family is in all of our thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.”
Broncos owner Pat Bowlen said the organization is “shocked and saddened” by the death of a third Broncos player in four years.
Cornerback Darrent Williams was killed in a drive-by shooting while leaving a party on Jan. 1, 2007, and linebacker Damien Nash collapsed and died two months later while playing in a charity basketball game.
McKinley played college football at the University of South Carolina from 2005-08 and set school records with 207 receptions for 2,781 yards.
Gamecocks coach Steve Spurrier said McKinley seemed to be “in good spirits” when he attended South Carolina’s 17-6 win over the University of Georgia on Sept. 11.
“Great smile like he always had,” Spurrier said in a statement. “I don’t understand it if it happened the way they say. It’s hard to comprehend. Kenny was certainly one of my favorite all-time players. He was a wonderful guy. It’s hard to figure out why this happened. It’s a sad day.”