Christopher Sign, a former University of Alabama football player who became a familiar face anchoring the weekday evening newscasts in Birmingham, Alabama, has died. He was 45 years old.
Police responded to a 911 call at a residence Saturday morning where they found the married father of three dead. Sign's death is being investigated as a suicide, Captain Keith Czeskleba of the Hoover Police Department told TODAY.
No further details were available.
Sign was raised in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and came to Alabama after he was recruited on a four-year football scholarship under Coach Gene Stallings, according to Sign's biography. It was at college where he met his wife, Laura, who was a University of Alabama volleyball player.
After graduation, Sign landed his first job in Montgomery, Alabama, spent time in Odessa/Midland, Texas, and then joined ABC News' Birmingham affiliate in the late 1990s where he proved himself as a sharp reporter with a knack for telling local stories.
He moved onto a bigger market, Phoenix, in 2005 where he spent 13 years as a reporter and anchor. During that time, Sign gained national attention for breaking the news of a secret meeting on the Phoenix Sky Harbor tarmac between former President Bill Clinton and then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch. The timing of the meeting happened during the 2016 Presidential Election, when then-candidate Hillary Clinton was under scrutiny for how she handled certain emails during her tenure as U.S. Secretary of State.
Sign's profile was on the rise, but in 2017 he decided to return to the Birmingham station where he worked at the start of his career.
"What most people don’t know is Chris turned down an opportunity to work for one of the national networks to come to ABC 33/40, and he made that decision because of his family," the station wrote in a tribute to Sign. "That decision put him in a place where he could see his boys off to school in the mornings, watch them play baseball in the evenings, and take them fishing on the weekends."
Tributes from viewers and former colleagues flooded social media.
"A light in our lives extinguished too soon. My friend and brother you will be greatly missed. Much love to your sweet family. We stand with you in grief," Sign's co-anchor Brenda Ladun wrote on Twitter.
She also shared a selfie with sign behind the anchor desk.
"I can’t believe we have an article with this title. It doesn’t feel real. We were in the office together last night cutting up like we always do. I don’t understand why. I can’t talk about you in the past tense. The grief today is unbearable," sports anchor Jaime Hale wrote on Twitter.
"My heart is hurting for you and the 33/40 family, as well as his boys and wife. Sending love," one viewer replied on Twitter.
Steve Irvin, an anchor at ABC News' Phoenix affiliate, remembered his former colleague as someone who was "completely devoted to his faith, his country, and his beautiful family."
"All of us who had the pleasure of working with him, and calling him our friend, are shocked and devastated by the news of his passing. Our hearts go out to his friends and family in Arizona, and Alabama," Irvin wrote. "We've lost a good man, who will be missed beyond measure."
If you or someone you know is at risk of suicide please call the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255, text TALK to 741741 or visit SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources for additional resources.