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Sometimes it’s easy to forget that professional athletes are people, too. We see them from such distance, and their talent so outstrips most of our own, that they can sometimes seem invincible, emotionless, and unassailable. But in light of the recent death of former Atlanta Falcon’s defensive tackle Jesse Mahelona, it’s important to remember that, as his fellow football player Stephen Tulloch put it, Mr. Mahelona was more than just a competitor, but a “great friend” as well.

Mr. Mahelona died in a car crash approximately a mile away from his house Kailua-Kona, on the Big Island of Hawaii. He is survived by one child and his pregnant wife, Brandi. His agent, Chad Speck, assured the public that there are plans to support the family in the father’s absence. Mr. Mahelona was only 26 years old.

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