Former Detroit Lions linebacker Jessie Lemonier, who last played in the NFL in January 2022, has died at the age of 25. The cause of his death has not been officially disclosed by his family, friends, or professional team. Fox News reported the news of Lemonier’s passing on Thursday, January 26, 2023, citing a statement from the Lions.
A Model Teammate and a Wonderful Young Man
The Lions expressed their shock and sadness over Lemonier’s death, calling him a “model teammate and a wonderful young man who is gone far too soon.” They also offered their thoughts and prayers to his family and friends during this difficult time. According to Fox News, Lemonier appeared in seven games for the Lions in 2021, recording 15 tackles and 1.5 sacks.
Lemonier was signed by the Lions in September 2021, after being waived by the Los Angeles Chargers, who had signed him as an undrafted free agent in 2020. The Chargers also released a statement on social media, saying “Gone too soon. Our hearts are with Jessie’s family, friends and loved ones.” According to Fox Sports, Lemonier played in six games for the Chargers in 2020, registering two tackles.
A Standout Career at Liberty University
Before joining the NFL, Lemonier had a standout career at Liberty University, where he helped the Flames make the transition from the FCS to the FBS level during his two seasons (2018-19). He was named the MVP of the 2019 Cure Bowl, where he led Liberty to its first-ever bowl game victory over Georgia Southern. He finished his career for the Flames with 20.5 sacks, which ranked third in program history at the time.
Liberty Athletics also issued a statement on Lemonier’s death, saying “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.” They also said they received a call from former Liberty coach and current Auburn coach Hugh Freeze about Lemonier’s passing. Freeze coached Lemonier during his two seasons at Liberty.
A Brief Stint in the XFL and USFL
After being released by the Arizona Cardinals in August 2022, Lemonier continued his football career in the XFL and USFL. He was drafted by the Arlington Renegades in the 2023 XFL Draft, but opted to stay with the USFL. He signed with the Houston Gamblers in December 2022, and was later traded to the Birmingham Stallions.
Lemonier was born on July 29, 1997, in Hialeah, Florida. He attended Hialeah High School, where he played football and basketball. He then spent a season at Ventura College in California before transferring to Liberty. He is survived by his parents, Jessie Sr. and Marlene Lemonier, and his siblings, Jazmine and Joshua Lemonier.