Kenny McKinley Dies in Apparent Suicide
Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson told The Denver Post that it was "apparently a suicide," but an investigation is still under way. Robinson told reporters that the cause of death appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Authorities were called to McKinley's apartment at about 3:30 p.m. Monday afternoon.
"Everyone with the Broncos is shocked and saddened by the loss of Kenny McKinley," Broncos owner Pat Bowlen said in a statement on the team's official website. "He was part of the Broncos family and will be greatly missed by our organization. My most heartfelt condolences go out to Kenny's family and friends."
Denver drafted McKinley, 23, in the fifth round of the 2009 draft (No. 141 overall). He saw limited action in eight games last season before being placed on injured reserve with a knee injury. The Broncos again placed him on IR prior to the 2010 season.
"Kenny had a promising future on the football field, but more importantly, he was a great teammate whose smile and personality could light up the room," Denver head coach Josh McDaniels said. "This is a tragic loss for our football team, and his family is in all of our thoughts and prayers during this difficult time."
Fox 31 in Denver first reported the tragic news.
The Denver Post's Lindsay Jones tweeted that McKinley visited family in Atlanta last week, then returned to Denver on Sunday with his young son.
McKinley is the third Broncos player to pass away in the past four years. On Jan. 1, 2007, cornerback Darrent Williams died after being shot in downtown Denver. One month later, running back Damien Nash collapsed and died while playing a pickup basketball game.
"It's a difficult situation, you go from being a super star in college and his pro career has been a challenge," McKinley's agent, Andrew Bondarowicz told The Denver Post. "These guys, they're made of steel on the outside, but for a lot of them, the challenge of being at your best and living up to all the expectations is a difficult situation. Some people are better equipped and have the support system."
In four years at South Carolina, McKinley caught 207 passes and 19 touchdowns. His best season came in 2007 when he was named to the All-SEC team with 77 receptions for 968 yards and nine touchdowns.
"Kenny was certainly one of my favorite all-time players," South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier said after Monday's practice. "Wonderful guy. It's hard to figure how or why this happened."
McKinley had traveled to the Gamecocks' home game against Georgia on Sept. 11, a 17-6 South Carolina win.
"I saw him here. He came to the Georgia game. He seemed in good spirits," Spurrier said, according to The Post and Courier in Charleston, S.C.. "He had a great smile, like he always had.
"I don't understand it, if it happened the way they say. It's hard to comprehend."
The Broncos will hold a full team meeting Tuesday, according to The Denver Post, with grief counselors available to players and staff.