For a day, former UM football player JoJo Nicolas fought for his life after being critically injured in an early-morning car accident in Miami Beach.
Wednesday night, flanked by emotionally shaken family members, his brother Abner Davis announced that Nicolas, 24, died shortly after 5 p.m.
He shared the news outside the Ryder Trauma Center at Jackson Memorial Hospital where family and friends of the former safety have been gathered since learning of Tuesday’s accident.
Joining the family was Miami coach Al Golden, who like members of Nicolas’ family, was visibly emotional during Davis’ brief statement in which he also thanked the community for its support and prayers for Nicolas.
“The University of Miami community has suffered a deep loss with the passing of JoJo Nicolas,” Golden said in a statement released by Miami. “For all of us who were fortunate to know JoJo—to coach him, teach him, play alongside him or simply befriend him—we will forever carry his memory with us. Our prayers go out to his family and his loved ones and he will always be a cherished member of our family.”
Nicolas, a South Florida native who starred at Homestead High before signing with Miami, played for the Hurricanes from 2007-2011. Early Tuesday morning, his gray Lexus crashed into the back of a truck and became wedged under the vehicle on the MacArthur Causeway. Later that day police said it was too early to determine whether alcohol or speed were factors in the crash.
“Those could be contributing factors. It’s still part of the investigation,” Miami Beach detective Vivian Hernandez told the Sun Sentinel on Tuesday. “They took measurements and that will take a little bit of time.”
News of Nicolas’ death stunned the Hurricanes football community, which took to social media requesting prayers for his family and sharing messages of condolence.
“Rip Jojo. You were a great leader, great teammates and most important, a great person. U will be missed,” Miami offensive lineman Jonathan Feliciano wrote on Twitter.
Nicolas was the recipient of Miami’s 2011 Melching Leadership award after starting all 12 games for the Hurricanes that year. He was one of only four defensive Hurricanes players that season to accomplish the feat, finishing his senior year third on the team with 66 tackles and a pair of interceptions.
After leaving Miami, he was signed as an undrafted free agent by the New York Giants.
“The entire University of Miami family mourns the loss of JoJo Nicolas, who passed away earlier this evening,” Miami athletic director Blake James said in a statement. “JoJo was a valued member of our community, our school, and our football program and his loss is devastating to everyone he touched. On behalf of the University, I send our prayers to JoJo’s family, friends and teammates. He will forever be part of The U.” email@example.com; Follow on Twitter @ChristyChirinos.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun