Former NFL quarterback Jared Lorenzen, who set multiple records as a 275-pound star at the University of Kentucky, has died at 38, his family announced Wednesday.
Nicknamed The Hefty Lefty and The Pillsbury Throwboy, Lorenzen wowed crowds with his rocket arm and athleticism despite being the size of a lineman. However, he later struggled mightily with controlling his weight — a journey he shared with TODAY in 2017.
His family released a statement last week through Matt Jones of Kentucky Sports Radio that he had been hospitalized on June 28 due to an infection as well as kidney and heart issues.
Lorenzen's family mourned his loss in a statement tweeted by Jones on Wednesday.
"It is with heavy hearts that the family of Jared Lorenzen would like to extend our sincere thanks and appreciation for all of your support and prayers over the past 6 days,'' the family said. "We are deeply saddened to announce the passing of Jared today, July 3, 2019. Again, we appreciated all of the warm wishes and prayers, but as a family, we would request your respect and privacy. ... Please keep Jared's family, and especially his children, in your thoughts and prayers."
Lorenzen spent four seasons with the New York Giants, earning a Super Bowl ring in the 2007 season as the backup to Eli Manning.
“Jared was a great teammate and friend,'' Manning said in a statement released by the Giants. "We competed against each other in college and came to the Giants together. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family. I will always remember his competitive spirit and his good nature. Jared has left us all way too soon.”
The Kentucky native still holds the University of Kentucky records for total offensive yards (10,637) and passing yards (10,354) set during his career from 2000-2003. He was elected into the UK Athletics Hall of Fame in 2015.
Following his NFL career, Lorenzen spoke openly about his struggles with obesity. He weighed more than 500 pounds when he spoke to TODAY two years ago about trying to improve his health.
"I was to a point where I realized that if I went to bed and didn’t wake up, people would say, 'Well look at him, he’s huge.' It wouldn’t be unexpected,'' he told TODAY.
The father of a daughter and a son, he kept striving to control his weight, which included "The Jared Lorenzen Project," a video initiative in which he invited fans to get healthy with him.
"I have very important reasons for doing this," Lorenzen said in 2017. "I look at my daughter every day and say if I continue, I’m not going to see her get married. I look at my son, he’s 7, I want to watch him grow up and play ball."