• Football rising star AJ Simon has died
  • One week before NFL draft
  • He was 25

The University of Albany football scene is draped in sorrow as it bids farewell to one of its brightest stars, Amitral "AJ" Simon, whose dreams of NFL glory were tragically cut short. The news of his passing, announced by the team on X (formerly Twitter), has sent ripples of grief across the sports community, highlighting the fleeting nature of life and the cruel twist of fate.

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A legacy of excellence

Simon, a towering figure of talent and dedication, was not just a player but a beacon of inspiration. His journey from Bloomsburg University to becoming a 2023 All-CAA first-team defensive selection speaks volumes of his relentless pursuit of greatness. But it wasn't just his prowess on the field that made him stand out; his academic achievements, including a spot on the 2023 Fall CAA Commissioner’s Academic Honor Roll, showcased a man of intellect and integrity.

The outpouring of love and respect for Simon has been overwhelming. Head football coach Greg Gattuso shared a touching tribute on X, reminiscing about the joyous years spent coaching and befriending Simon. "I love you AJ and will always have a special place in my heart for #8," Gattuso expressed, encapsulating the deep bond shared between player and coach.

Similarly, Taylor O'Connor, the team's director of digital content and communications, recalled Simon's humility and kindness. Even as he prepared for the NFL Draft, Simon remained grounded, always grateful for the support of those around him. His promise to never forget those who helped him along his journey speaks to the character of a man who knew the value of gratitude and friendship.

A dream unfulfilled

Simon's untimely departure is a stark reminder of the unpredictability of life. As the sports world reels from this loss, the memory of his spirit, both on and off the field, will undoubtedly live on. Simon was not just a player aiming for the NFL; he was a role model, a teammate, and a friend whose legacy will continue to inspire long after his passing.

As we reflect on the life of Amitral "AJ" Simon, let us remember the joy he brought to the game, the lives he touched, and the dreams he chased with unwavering passion. In his memory, may we cherish each moment and strive to live with the same kindness, dedication, and love that he exemplified.

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