Neiron Ball’s family had endured unimaginable struggles. The latest tragedy occurred on September 9 when Ball himself died at the age of 27, eight years after he was diagnosed with Arteriovenous malformation. Ball, a linebacker for both the Florida Gators and the Oakland Raiders in the NFL’s, passing was announced in a heartbreaking Facebook post from his sister, Natalie Ball Myricks.
Myricks wrote, “We are deeply saddened to announce the passing of Neiron Ball on September 9, 2019, at 4:15 am. The Ball family is forever grateful for the prayers, donations, and immense support of Neiron and his recovery. Neiron was a very special and loving father, brother, and teammate. Neiron has transitioned to a place of peace.” In a statement, Ball’s agency, The Sports & Entertainment Group, said, “We join the Ball family in thanking the numerous supporters of Neiron and his journey to recovery. Neiron was a rare and special spirit with the ability to touch anyone he met. His talent was met with relentless drive, no matter the obstacle. Neiron was a loving and cherished father, brother, and teammate. He will be missed dearly.”
Neiron Ball grew up with his family in the town of Jackson, Georgia, located around 50 miles southeast of Atlanta. He was a graduate and football star, along with his brother Neland, at Jackson High School. Ball decided to play college ball at the University of Florida. Following his diagnosis of Arteriovenous malformation, Ball missed a year of football. In an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, Ball credited his sister with helping him remain patient during his off time. Ball went on to be drafted by the Oakland Raiders in the 2015 NFL Draft.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Ball’s Mom Died on Mother’s Day When He Was 6 Years Old
In a 2016 Raiders documentary, Ball said that over three years span, he lost both of his parents, Johanna and Ronnie Ball.
Ball told ESPN in 2015 that his mother, who had been battling cancer, suffered a heart attack on Mother’s Day when he was six years old. When he was nine, his father was diagnosed with lung cancer and passed away shortly after the diagnosis due to a seizure.
2. Ball Said That His Grandmother ‘Made Sure He Never Gave Up’
Following the tragic death of his parents, Ball said that he was raised in part by his grandmother, Josephine White. Ball said of his grandmother in an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle in 2015, “She made sure I never gave up, worked hard and gave me all the values to help me get where I am today. What happened to my parents was a terrible thing that I had no control of, but I had control of a lot still.”
3. Ball’s Brother’s Football Career Was Ruined by a Knee Injury
Ball’s brother, Neland, was also slated to be a football star after receiving a scholarship to the University of Georgia. Unfortunately, a knee injury ended his career before it got started.
4. Ball’s Brother-in-Law Served as a Father-Like Figure
Ball told ESPN in 2015 that Dary Myricks, his sister’s husband, became a father figure to him. The ESPN feature says that Myricks, who also attended Jackson High School, according to his Facebook page, has known Ball since he was a toddler. Myricks is described in the article as being a football coach in the Atlanta-area.
Myricks told the network, “When Neiron had his brain surgery, it was so tough to see. This is a kid who has gone through a lot in life — a lot. He’s seen so much death. … For him to be dealing with an uncertain future, it was just so hard to watch.” Myricks went on to describe his feelings when Ball was drafted by the Raiders in 2015 saying, “It was an emotional day when the Raiders took him. It was such a long road.” Myricks said that prospective teams had researched Ball’s medical history. Myricks said that Ball was a “great kid. The Raider Nation should feel good that he going to represent them and the people who drafted him well.”
Ball’s sister told Fox Atlanta in a July 2019 interview that the linebacker was more responsive to her husband than he was to her but she says, “That’s always been the case.”
5. The Original GoFundMe Page for Ball’s Medical Care Reached its Original Goal in 1 Day
Ball was placed in a medically induced coma in September 2018 at Emory Hospital in Atlanta after he suffered a brain aneurysm. His family said in a July 2019 statement that although Ball had woken from the coma, he was now a quadriplegic. His family launched a GoFundMe page to help to pay for his medical care in July 2019. At the time of writing, that page has raised $136,000.
The original goal of the page was $100,000. The biography on the page noted that Ball was being cared for by his sister, Natalie Myricks and his great aunt. Around the time that the page was launched, Ball’s sister told WCJB, “He’s a two to three thousand dollar a day patient. and so the insurance will only pay for skilled nursing facilities which is basically…he won’t get any rehab there. he would just lay up, develop bedsores and deteriorate.” Myricks added that she was “shocked” by the amazing response from University of Florida fans and alumni.
She added that the page’s original goal was met in a day. Myricks’ husband, Dary, added, “Well he’s a fighter. that’s one thing we tried to make clear.there are a lot of different opinions about our situation and it’s real simple for us. as long as he’s fighting we’re fighting.” Ball’s family also said that they were asking fans to write letters to the linebacker so that they could read to him at his bedside.