FORMER Carolina Panthers cornerback Rashard Anderson has died at 45 as tributes pour in for the ex-first-round draft pick.
Jackson State University, the school that Anderson attended from 1996-99, announced the former athlete's death on Thursday.
"Today is a sad day for the JSU family," Jackson State vice president and director of athletics Ashley Robinson said in a statement.
"Rashard was one of the best players in the history of our football program and an outstanding person.
"He attended our spring football game in April and was excited about the program returning to championship status.
"Rashard will always be remembered by Jackson State University, and our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this time."
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The University did not disclose a cause of death.
A product of Forest High School in Mississippi, Anderson was a standout at JSU, where he played cornerback for the Tigers for four seasons.
He was a major piece to the Tigers' 1996 Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) Championship win as well as their 1999 SWAC Eastern Division title.
Anderson was taken 23rd overall by the Panthers in the 2000 NFL Draft.
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However, his pro-career was short-lived. He missed the entire 2003 season after getting suspended for a substance violation.
The league reinstated Anderson following the suspension, but he was immediately released by the Panthers and never made the cut with another team again.
After retiring from football, he became a substitute teacher and assistant football coach at Callaway High School and Murrah High School in Jackson.
He was inducted into the JSU Sports Hall of Fame.
'LONG LIVE RIH46'
Tributes for the former cornerback poured in on social media after the news of his death broke.
His former JSU teammate, Marcus Rogers, shared: "💔Dam man, loss a brother, friend, teammate this morning. My Dude was a Father, son, nephew, and uncle.
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"My Dawg Rashard Anderson, former 1st Rd pick Carolina, JSU Grad and Forest High Alum has transitioned! #CancerSucks #LLRIH46."
Another person who claimed Anderson was his former coach wrote: "Rest In Peace Coach ❤️. Real ones know."
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