Former Missouri football player Damien Nash died Saturday night following a charity basketball game held at Riverview Gardens High School in St. Louis.
Nash, a Denver Broncos running back, hosted the event to benefit the Darris Nash Find a Heart Foundation, which raises money for heart transplant research. The organization was founded in honor of Darris Nash, Damien Nash’s older brother, who received a heart transplant.
According to ESPN.com, Nash, 24, collapsed after the basketball game. He was taken to Christian Hospital in St. Louis and pronounced dead at 6:41 p.m., a hospital spokesperson said.
According to Alli Ritchey, a server at The Fieldhouse, a restaurant located on Broadway in Columbia, Damien Nash was a guest of the bar Saturday night for an after-party to coincide with the charity game. After news of Nash’s death reached The FieldHouse, Christopher Creath, who was hosting the party, changed the event to a dedication party to Nash.
Chad Moller, University of Missouri athletic department director, said he heard of Nash’s death from coach Gary Pinkel. Moller said that Pinkel heard from others about Nash’s death, then called Moller to tell him.
Moller described Pinkel as shocked, stunned and speechless. He said Pinkel couldn’t believe that it happened to a person with a such a bright future.
After two years at Missouri, the Tennessee Titans selected Nash in the fifth round of the 2005 NFL Draft. The Titans waived Nash after he appeared in three games his rookie season.
The Denver Broncos signed Nash to their practice squad in 2006, and he was activated for the Broncos’ Nov. 12 game at Oakland. In two years in the NFL, Nash appeared in six games, carrying the ball 24 times for 98 yards.
Nash’s college career was short and prolific, but it was also rocky and ended early. Recruited by MU in 2001, Nash first attended Coffeyville (Kan.) Community College because he did not meet MU’s academic standards. In two seasons at MU, Nash rushed for 1,254 yards, had 36 receptions for 281 yards and scored 14 touchdowns.
In his junior year in 2004, Nash led the team in rushing but clashed with Pinkel. After questioning Missouri’s play-calling in a game against Oklahoma State in a newspaper column, Nash was suspended for one game. He returned after the suspension, but quit the football team after the season and entered the 2005 NFL Draft.
In a statement issued by the Denver Broncos, head coach Mike Shanahan said “The Broncos family has suffered a great loss with the passing of Damien Nash. I am stunned and deeply saddened by this tragedy, and send my deepest condolences to Damien’s family.”