Neiron Ball’s long battle with a rare congenital brain condition has ended. The former University of Florida linebacker died in an Atlanta hospital early Tuesday morning. He was 27.
His sister and caregiver, Natalie Ball Myricks, confirmed his death on Facebook. She wrote: “The Ball family is forever grateful for the prayers, donations and immense support of Neiron and his recovery. Neiron was a very special and loving father, brother and teammate. Neiron has transitioned to a place of peace.”
Ball signed with Florida in 2010 and played outside linebacker for the Gators from 2011-14.
In 2011, Ball collapsed in his dorm room and was hospitalized with bleeding in his brain that required surgery. He was diagnosed with Brain AVM (arteriovenous malformation), a rare condition where blood vessels tangle in the brain.
Despite the condition, Ball returned to the team and played a significant role on the UF defense in the final three years of his college career. He was drafted in the fifth round by the Oakland Raiders in 2015 and played his rookie season, recording nine tackles and a sack. He was injured the following season and released.
Last year, Ball suffered a brain aneurysm and was placed in a medically induced coma and became a quadriplegic.
In July, Myricks created a GoFundMe page for Ball with a goal of raising $50,000 so Ball could be moved from a nursing home to a rehabilitation facility so he could receive therapy that might help him recover. With many donations coming from former UF and Oakland teammates and Gator fans, Myricks raised almost $140,000.
Florida coach Dan Mullen wrote on his Twitter account, “Thoughts and prayers to Neiron’s family. Once a Gator always a Gator.”
Former teammates expressed their feelings on social media Tuesday.
“RIP Brother. You’re in a better place now,” former UF offensive lineman Shannon Snell wrote on his Twitter account.
“RIP Neiron! One of the nicest people I have ever met. Always had a smile on his face!” Raiders quarterback Derek Carr wrote.