FORMER NFL and USC offensive lineman Max Tuerk has died at age 26 after collapsing on a hike with his parents.
Tuerk’s family confirmed that he died on Saturday while hiking in Cleveland National Forest, north of San Diego.
His family said in a statement: “Max loved his teammates, coaches and schools.
“Max was a loving son and older brother and his passing leaves a giant hole in our hearts.”
Tuerk played for the USC Trojan’s from 2012 to 2015, playing as a Freshman All-American in 2012 and a First Team All-Pac-12.
He then went on to be drafted in the third round of the 2016 NFL Draft by the Los Angeles Chargers.
However, he was suspended for the first four games of the 2017 season for violating the policy on performance-enhancing substances.
When he returned from suspension, he was released by the Chargers.
The Arizona Cardinals then signed Tuerk off of the Chargers’ practice squad in November 2017, before releasing him in 2018.
Los Angeles Chargers’ General Manager Tom Telesco said in a statement: “This news is hard to process and all I can think of is how unbelievably sad I am – and all of us at the Chargers are – upon learning of Max’s passing.
“I’m heartbroken for his parents and family.
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“Max had a tremendous passion for football and a quiet toughness that those who didn’t know him may have underestimated, but all of us who knew him appreciated…”
The USC Trojans tweeted: “#FightOnForever, Max Tuerk. The #TrojanFamily is terribly saddened by the news of Tuerk’s passing, gone too soon at the age of 26, and our thoughts, prayers and condolences are with his family.”
Tuerk’s former head coach, Clay Helton, tweeted: “Heartbroken by the loss of Max Tuerk. Incredible person, teammate, and Trojan. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family.”