Neiron Ball, the former Florida linebacker whose joy for life made him a fan favorite and whose multiple fights for his life against a medical condition made headlines during and after his career, passed away on Monday, September 9, his sister announced Tuesday on Facebook.
He was 27.
Natalie Ball Myricks, who has been Ball’s champion throughout his battle with brain arteriovenous malformation (AVM) and complications resulting from it, posted the following message on Facebook just before 10 a.m. Tuesday.
Gator Nation and Friends of Neiron Ball:
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.
Dary and Natalie Ball Myricks
Ball came to Florida in 2010 as a linebacker in Urban Meyer’s last recruiting class, and developed into a role player as a pass-rusher under Will Muschamp.
But the first flare-up of his AVM — which came during a Florida spring practice in 2011 — would lead to a fight for his life that year. And the story of his resilience and recovery not just to health but to the football field became one of the great feel-good stories about any Gator ever, as he finished his collegiate career and eventually lived out his NFL dream by being drafted by and playing for the Oakland Raiders.
That story took another turn in 2018, as reports suggested Ball was hospitalized and in a coma, and shifted once again — becoming an avenue for compassion from Gator Nation —earlier this year, as his sister’s plea for help in transitioning Ball to a better medical facility was made viral by Florida fans on social media in July. A GoFundMe campaign started to support him raised nearly $140,000 — almost three times its original goal — and seemingly instilled hope that some progress could be made in helping Ball recover.
As recently as late August, Myricks was hopeful about that recovery, posting a message to Facebook that began “Yesterday was another great day of progress for Neiron Ball” on August 22. Late last week, a Florida fan close to the Ball family tweeted an email from Myricks suggesting that the family was still seeking a facility in Florida that would accept Ball, but also that the family had raised enough money and gotten a commitment from the NFL Players Association that would cover a higher level of care.
Now, suddenly, Ball has passed. And a man whose smile alone could brighten anyone’s day and whose fight against the cruel long odds of life — not just those presented by his medical condition, but the ones mounted by an upbringing that saw both of his parents pass away before he turned 10 — was an inspiration to many is being mourned by those who knew and loved him best.
Neiron Ball. Always smiling. Always happy. Always positive. Absolutely one of the best teammates and humans I was fortunate enough to be around. Thank you for being my friend and brother in that orange and blue. RIP brother!!! pic.twitter.com/vip5zzxGCs— Gator Made (@XavierNixon) September 10, 2019
Rest In Peace, Neiron. My heart is broken.— Katalyst (@KhalifaTafari) September 10, 2019
Family, friends and former teammates are mourning the loss of Neiron Ball. #Raiders and former #Gators offensive lineman Trent Brown, a very close friend to Ball, posted this to his Instagram this morning. pic.twitter.com/5EHYgavVUB— Ainslie Lee (@ainsliestwobits) September 10, 2019
Some tears you just don't be prepared for... ️— Trent Brown (@Trent) September 10, 2019
Suffer no more ️— Trent Brown (@Trent) September 10, 2019
Rest in Peace, Neiron. You'll be forever remembered and always missed. Our thoughts and prayers are with your family during this difficult time. #GatorsAlways pic.twitter.com/ePkAl3DLg0— Gators Football (@GatorsFB) September 10, 2019
Rest in peace, Neiron.
Finally, rest in peace.