Former Detroit Lions Linebacker Jessie Lemonier Dead at 25

Jessie Lemonier, a former NFL linebacker who played for the Detroit Lions in 2021, has died, the team confirmed on Thursday. He was 25 years old. The cause of death was not announced and additional details about the death have not been released, according to ESPN.

"We are shocked and saddened to learn of the passing of former Detroit Lion Jessie Lemonier," the Lions said in a statement. "Jessie was a model teammate and wonderful young man who is gone far too soon. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends during this difficult time." Drew Smith, Lemonier's agent, told ESPN that he and his girlfriend were expecting a child. 

Lemonier originally signed with the Los Angeles Chargers on April 26, 2020. He played in six games during the 2020 season and recorded two tackles with two quarterback hits. Lemonier was waived by the team on Aug. 31, 2021, but the Lions signed Lemonier to their practice squad on Sept. 2 and was promoted to the active roster a month later. He played in seven games during the 2021 season and tallied 15 tackles and 1.5 sacks. 

Following the 2021 season, the Lions waived Lemonier. He signed with the Arizona Cardinals on May 17, 2022, but was released by the team in August. Lemonier was selected by the Arlington Renegades in the 2023 XFL Draft but instead signed with the Houston Gamblers of the USFL on New Year's Eve. He was then traded to the Birmingham Stallions. 

Lemonier played college football at Liberty University and had a stellar career. He finished his career for the Flames with 20.5 sacks, which ranked third at the time in program history. In his two years at Liberty, Lemonier ranked third among FBS players nationally in total sacks during the 2018 and 2019 seasons. 

"The Liberty Athletics family is deeply saddened to learn about the passing of former Flames football great Jessie Lemonier," the school said in a statement. "Jessie was loved by Flames Nation for being a fierce competitor on the gridiron and cherished by his coaches and teammates in the locker room. Liberty Athletics will continue to keep his family and friends in our prayers that God may bring peace and comfort to them during the difficult days ahead."