Jamain Stephens, a California University of Pennsylvania football player, has died due to COVID-19 complications. He was 20 years old. Stephens played on the defensive line and was the son of former NFL offensive lineman Jamain Stephens, who played for the Cincinnati Bengals and Pittsburgh Steelers.
"Jamain was such a wonderful student with a smile on his face every time you saw him," California University of Pennsylvania athletic director Dr. Karen Hjerpe said in a statement, as reported by USA Today. "His personality was contagious and he made such a positive impact on everyone he met." The school didn't announce the cause of death as COVID-19, but the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported the death was related to the virus.
"He was such a positive person that really cared about everyone," said A.J. Beatty, who plays football at the University of North Carolina and was a teammate of Stephens' at Central Catholic High School in Pittsburgh. "Every single person at Central knew 'Juice.' He had the ability to take over an entire room of people with his positive energy. One of the few people in life that you will meet that there’s nothing to say bad about. Did so much for the Central community. It was truly amazing. Such an awesome person all around."
The NCAA shared a message on Tuesday which said: "We join Cal U in mourning the loss of Jamain Stephens. Our thoughts are with his family, friends and teammates during this time." California University of Pennsylvania plays in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference of Divison II and suspended all competition for the fall due to the pandemic. A number of other conferences in the division also postponed fall sports, which led to the division canceling fall championship games.
"We are committed to giving our student-athletes the chance to compete during this academic year," Geraldine Jones, President of California University of Pennsylvania and newly elected chair of the PSAC Board of Directors, said in a statement. "We know this is a huge disappointment for our student-athletes who work so very hard in their sport. This decision was not taken lightly and we feel saddened by having to do so."
Stephens played in 32 games from 2017-2019. He was a business administration major who was looking forward to playing his senior season. His father was drafted by the Steelers in the first round in 1996. He then signed with the Bengals in 1999 and finished his career playing in 40 games.