Jessie Lemonier, a linebacker and defensive end who played for the Detroit Lions and Los Angeles Chargers, has died at age 25, the teams announced Thursday.
The Lions said in a statement they were “shocked and saddened” to learn of his passing. A cause of death is not yet publicly known.
Listed by the NFL at 6-foot-2 and 240 pounds, Lemonier went undrafted in 2020 out of Liberty before signing with the Chargers. He appeared in six games that year for Los Angeles, then signed with Detroit in 2021 and played in seven games, with two starts. Lemonier was released by the Lions this past May and landed with the Arizona Cardinals, who released him in training camp.
“Jessie was a model teammate and a wonderful young man who is gone far too soon,” the Lions said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends during this difficult time.”
In November, Lemonier was drafted by the XFL’s Arlington Renegades but he chose instead to join the USFL. That league’s Houston Renegades traded him on New Year’s Eve to the Birmingham Stallions.
The USFL echoed the Lions in saying (via WBRC) it was “was shocked and saddened” by Lemonier’s death.
“He was a talented football player and by all accounts a wonderful person,” said the Birmingham-based league. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends during this difficult time.”
Lemonier’s agent told ESPN that the player and his girlfriend were expecting a child. He is also survived by an older brother, Corey Lemonier, who won a national championship with the 2010 Auburn Tigers before a four-year NFL career took him to the San Francisco 49ers, Cleveland Browns and New York Jets.
A native of Hialeah, Fla., Jessie Lemonier transferred to Liberty after spending a season with Ventura (Calif.) College. During his two seasons with the Flames, during which they completed a transition from the Football Championship Subdivision to the Football Bowl Subdivision, Lemonier helped the program reach its first bowl game. He was named MVP of that contest, the 2019 Cure Bowl, after registering eight tackles and two sacks in a win over Georgia Southern.
“The Liberty Athletics family is deeply saddened to learn about the passing of former Flames football great Jessie Lemonier,” the Lynchburg, Va., school said in a statement. “Jessie was loved by Flames Nation for being a fierce competitor on the gridiron and cherished by his coaches and teammates in the locker room.”