How did Bobby Roundtree die? Paralyzed Illinois college football star dies at 23

Bobby Roundtree, who was paralyzed two years ago in a tragic swimming accident after jumping into shallow water was found dead in Tampa Bay area

                            How did Bobby Roundtree die? Paralyzed Illinois college football star dies at 23
Former Illinois college football star Bobby Roundtree had been paralyzed in a swimming accident in 2019 that ended his football career (Twitter)

A former University of Illinois football star died on Friday, July 16, just two years after getting paralyzed in a tragic swimming accident where he jumped into shallow water, the team announced in an emotional tweet and statement. 

Members of the Illinois Athletics community mourned the death of Bobby Roundtree, 23, on July 16, 2021,  Roundtree, a standout during the two seasons he played for the Fighting Illini, died in the Tampa Bay area, the cause of his death is not known. It was earlier reported that Roundtree was injured on May 18, 2019, when he jumped into the water near John’s Pass in Madeira Beach, Florida but the water was too shallow. The jump paralyzed Roundtree, ending his promising football career. 


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Roundtree's death just adds to the list of the number of celebrities we lost in the past few weeks including Joy Vogelsang, Richard Donner,Heidi Ferrer and Caitlyn Loane.

Josh Whitman tweeted, "There are no words to adequately express the sadness in my heart. In the face of unspeakable adversity and hardship, Bobby brought life and optimism to every room he entered. He was a warrior, a leader, and an inspiration to all. I will never forget him. Love you, 97." Illinois Football's official account tweeted, "The Illini Family has lost one of its inspirational leaders with the passing of Bobby Roundtree Friday in the Tampa Bay area. RIP @BobbyRoundtr97. We will miss you." Wrestling Coach Michael Poeta tweeted: "I’ve probably cried a dozen times over the years from videos Bobby Roundtree put out personally or was put out about him. He was an inspiration to not only the football team, but every athlete, coach, and administrator within our athletic department. He will never be forgotten."





Roundtree had documented his 18-month-long rehabilitation on social media. On July 16, 2021, just a day before his death, he shared one final positive message: "Stay humble and keep ELEVATING"



Roundtree played all 24 games his freshman and sophomore year, recording 116 total tackles and 11.5 sacks. In 2017, he tied the team lead in sacks and the following year he was awarded Illinois’ Outstanding Defensive Player of the Year award. He also received an All-Big Ten honorable mention.