(WCIA) — Bobby Roundtree’s funeral service was held on Saturday in his hometown of Largo, FL. The former Illini defensive end passed away at 23 years old on July 16th. Several Illinois players were flown out to Florida on Saturday morning, so they were able to attend Roundtree’s service.
Roundtree was left paralyzed two years ago, after he suffered a spinal cord injury in a swimming accident. Roundtree was inspiring many on his journey to recovery, posting his daily workouts in physical therapy. It’s that fighting sprit that inspired so many of his teammates.
“He always came to work everyday, he dedicated himself to his craft, he dedicated himself to his University, and he had so much courage, and he will definitely forever be missed,” says offensive lineman Vederian Lowe.
“We was in the same position room, for three years, and even after his incident we stayed in contact,” says defensive lineman Owen Carney. “I went to see him when he was at the hospital in Chicago, and so Bobby was a dear friend of mine that was lost.”
“Obviously our hearts were broken last Friday. It was a hard day,” says Illinois athletic director Josh Whitman. “He’s someone that’s meant a lot to this place, and will continue to mean a lot to this place, even with his passing. It’s incumbent on me to find ways to celebrate him and to memorialize him.”
Roundtree never played for Bret Bielema, although the Illini head coach says he’s been moved by Roundtree’s impact in the Illini community.
“I’ve been overly impressed with who he is, what he represented, and the lives he touched in a short amount of time,” said Bielema. “It was immediately well-known to me how much of an impact he had on our team.