Here’s what you need to know:
1. There Is No Cause of Death Yet
No cause of death has been made public yet, CBS Minnesota reports that there had been rumors about a cause of death, but those proved to be false. After collapsing during practice, paramedics were unable to revive him, Afryl died later at a local hospital. According to his mother, Sue Hill Afryl, her son had no known medical conditions.
2. His Former Coaches Have Paid Tribute
The school’s Head Football Coach Tom Sawyer released a statement in which he said:
In the time Shawn was on campus, he showed a lot of people what a great fit he was going to be not only for our football program but for our campus as well. He did an excellent job as a counselor during our team camps, and his leadership qualities and maturity were a valuable asset to our successful camps. He will be sorely missed.
University of Illinois Coach Tim Beckman, Afyrl’s former coach, also released statement:
All of us in the Fighting Illini football family are greatly saddened by Shawn’s passing last night. He was a great teammate and a dedicated student. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.
3. He Was a Graduate of the University of Illinois
After graduating from the University of Illinois, he transferred to Winona State in 2014 to continue his education. He was studying for a teaching degree, focused on social studies. His mother said that his goal was to become a high school teacher and football coach. Due to red shirting his first season at the University of Illinois, Afryl had one more year of eligibility at college ball.
According to his official profile at the University of Illinois website, Afryl turned down Indiana, Purdue and Iowa to play in Illinois.
During his senior year at Nile West high school in Skokie, Illinois, Afryl was voted the 37th best offensive linemen in the nation and the 18th-best high school prospect in Illinois.
4. Afryl Leaves Behind a Beautiful Girlfriend
According to his Facebook page, in addition to his studies, he worked as a bouncer at a bar and was in a relationship with a girl named Hanna Malic. On her Facebook page, she says the couple had been dating since September 2010.
Afryl’s mother told the Chicago Tribune that her son was a patriot and wanted his ashes to be distributed an important American landmark. She also added that her son was a huge Chicago Cubs fan.
5. His Family Need Donations to Pay for his Funeral
His family have said that they are struggling to find funding for Afryl’s funeral and have pleaded for donations. On the Go Fund Me page for Afryl’s funeral, his mother writes:
My beautiful son, Shawn Patrick Afryl, passed away suddenly last night as he was practicing football on a scholarship he received. He graduated from U.of Illinois. Then was offered another full scholarship from Wynona State University in Minn., where he passed. His goal was to become a teacher of history and coach in a high school setting. My heart is aching..the pain is devastating. He had the biggest heart in the world, and was a leader with kindness of soul. He was, and is, my hero.
This is so difficult but I have to ask for money. My son has to come home for him to be with me, and for a most proper burial.
As of July 22, the page has raised $14,236. His mother also told the Chicago Tribune that she hopes to set up a charity in her son’s name to provide athletic equipment to underprivileged kids. She said that would make her son “smile.”