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Candlelight Vigil, Memorial Fund for Cal Football Player Ted Agu

| February 12, 2014
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UC Berkeley football player Ted Agu, in image released today by Cal.

UC Berkeley football player Ted Agu, in image released by Cal. (GoldenBearSports.com)

Update 7:45 a.m. Wednesday (Feb. 12): Cal Athletics is holding a candlelight vigil Wednesday night for Ted Agu, the Golden Bears’ defensive lineman who died following a run with the team last Friday. The gathering will be held from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. tonight at the Lisa and Douglas Goldman Plaza on the west side of Memorial Stadium (see map). Stadium Gates 3 and 5 will open at 6 p.m., and candles and special wristbands will be handed out to the first 1,000 attendees. The event will be led by Agu’s Omega Psi Phi fraternity and Cal student-athletes.

Agu’s family, friends, fraternity brothers and former Bakersfield Frontier High School teammates have led an online drive to help raise funds for funeral costs and other expenses. So far, the Ted Agu Memorial Fund at YouCare.com has raised about $27,000 of its $30,000 goal.

Update 1:45 p.m. Monday (Feb. 10): The Alameda County Coroner’s Bureau said Monday it was conducting an autopsy on Ted Agu, the 21-year-old Cal football player who died during a team workout on Friday. The coroner’s office told KQED’s Ted Goldberg this morning that toxicology tests are also being conducted in the case, and it would tax six to eight weeks before those results would be returned. Bottom line: It appears unlikely that the coroner will release the cause of Ted Agu’s death today.

Update 2:45 p.m. Friday (Feb. 7): UC Berkeley athletics officials have released some details of the events leading to the death of 21-year-old defensive lineman Ted Agu during a supervised training run near Cal’s Memorial Stadium early Friday morning.

Dr. Casey Batten, a team physician, told a press conference in Berkeley that medical staff were monitoring the workout and noticed that Agu appeared to be having difficulty completing it. As a precaution, staff members stopped Agu’s workout. “He was hydrating, he was responsive, he was talking,” Batten said.

As a further precaution, he was placed on a cart and moved to a medical facility about 150 yards away. Agu collapsed there. Batten said medical staff immediately started what he called “high-quality CPR” and use of an external defibrillator. Agu was then rushed to Alta Bates Hospital in Berkeley, where he died.

A visibly stricken Cal Athletic Director Sandy Barbour said “the Cal family is heartbroken” by Agu’s death.

‘This is one of those tragedies that no one can understand or comprehend.’— Sonny Dykes
Cal head football coach

“There is no greater tragedy than to lose one of our incredibly bright and passionate young people far too soon,” she said.

Agu won a spot on Cal’s roster as a walk-on — a non-scholarship player — under former coach Jeff Tedford. Sonny Dykes, Cal’s current head coach, rewarded Agu’s talent and determination by making him a scholarship player last year.

“This is certainly one of those tragedies that, as we talked about to our football team today, no one can understand or comprehend,” Dykes said today. “Ted was a very special young man. As a coach you have the opportunity to be around a lot of special kids, day in and day out, and he was a special young man. Just had a passion and energy for life that was contagious. He’ll be deeply missed. Our players loved him dearly, and he was a big part of our family.”

Agu was a student in UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health, whose dean, Stefano Bertozzi, issued a statement:

“Ted’s untimely death is a great shock; not only was he a star athlete on the Cal football team, but he was also a strong student with plans for medical school. Those who knew him have commented that despite having the impressive physicality of a football player, he had a charming warmth of character. Ted demonstrated strong leadership skills, serving as an informal peer adviser for incoming freshman football players. He was passionate about using the influence of football players and coaches to improve healthy behaviors among youth in our community and was planning to work with the School on a project related to this. He will long be remembered.”

Original post: UC Berkeley says that Ted Agu, a junior defensive lineman who attended Frontier High School in Bakersfield and first earned a spot on the Golden Bears as a walk-on (non-scholarship) player, died Friday morning. Agu was 21 years old.

The San Francisco Chronicle’s Nanette Asimov reports, “Cal officials said Agu was running with other teammates at the time. They did not say where the run took place, but said he was taken to a hospital and pronounced dead.”

A Bay Area News Group account reports: “Greg Kragen, a former NFL player with the Denver Broncos and the father of Cal defensive end Kyle Kragen, said his son told him a player passed out during a team run on Friday morning.”

Here’s the press release from Cal Athletics confirming Agu’s death:

At this time, we are deeply saddened to inform you that Ted Agu, one of our student-athletes and a member of our football team, passed away tragically this morning. Our thoughts and prayers are with Ted’s family and friends, our players and coaches, and our University family. Our student-athletes are our priority and we are providing counseling services for our players. Please bear with us as we work to inform personally those closest to Ted; we will provide more information as it becomes available.

“This is a very difficult time for our football family,” said Sonny Dykes, Head Football Coach. “Ted was a remarkable young man and a member of this family who was highly respected and loved by his teammates and coaching staff. He had an incredible passion for life and will be deeply missed.”

Athletics Director Sandy Barbour said, “Our heartfelt condolences go out to Ted’s family. This is a very painful time for the entire Cal family; in the days and weeks ahead, my focus will be on providing every member of our community the support and information they need to get through this time. I would ask that media please respect and understand how this tragedy is impacting Ted’s family, his teammates, friends and the members of our campus community. We will get through this together.”

More details on Agu and team reaction, again from the Bay Area News Group:

A public health major at Cal, Agu earned Pac-12 All-Academic second-team honors after compiling a 3.28 grade-point average last fall.

He played in seven of Cal’s 12 games last season, totaling six tackles.

Reaction from his saddened teammates was swift.

Freshman teammate Cameron Walker said on Twitter: “You left too soonBut ur in a better place now. & we all have another guardian angel watching over us. I love you, Ted. I miss you already.”

Quarterback Jared Goff tweeted, “I’ll never forget you Ted,” and freshman lineman Eril Bunte, on Twitter, called Agu, “The best example of a true Cal football player. On and off the field …. One of the best men I had the HONOR of knowing.”

Freshman Jonah Hodges said Agu made himself available to help teammates with their academics.

“Prayers out to ted and his family guy was incredibly smart would help me and the other younger guys whenever we needed it in the classroom,” Hodges tweeted.

And a little more on Agu from Chronicle Sports Editor Al Saracevic:

(Agu) saw action at Cal as both a defensive lineman and linebacker, wearing No. 35. By all accounts, he was a well-liked and successful student-athlete.

Agu starred at Bakersfield’s Frontier High School, earning All-Southwest Yosemite League honors in each of his final two prep seasons, leading the conference with 12.0 sacks as a 2009 senior after posting 8.0 sacks in his junior campaign.

Agu played basketball and participated in track and field in high school. He was an honor roll student all four years of high school who was named the most academic player on his basketball squad during both his 2007-08 sophomore and 2008-09 junior campaigns.

Here’s a video of Agu being interviewed last spring in a Cal Athletics video:

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About the Author ()

Dan Brekke has worked in media ever since Nixon's first term, when newspapers were still using hot type. He had moved on to online news by the time Bill Clinton met Monica Lewinsky. He's been at KQED since 2007, is an enthusiastic practitioner of radio and online journalism and will talk to you about absolutely anything. Reach Dan Brekke at dbrekke@kqed.org.
  • Catherine Gabriel

    REST IN PEACE Young man

  • Chad Williams

    Seemed like a really nice kid. Sad.

  • Gail Stevens

    Our hearts go out to his family, the coaching staff, players and entire bear nation. We lost our son, an Ole Miss OL to a car accident in July, the days ahead will be difficult, but God will provide strength, if you turn to him. Sending prayers, the family of Park Stevens.

  • Rachel J

    My heart goes out to the Agu family. May you find comfort in the peace of God. And for the repose of Ted ‘ s soul.

  • Liz N

    My heart goes out to his family and team. Did he show symptoms of ARVD? If so, please have his family get evaluated to determine if they have this congential condition.