NEAR FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (WSVN) — Former Tennessee State University football player Trabis Ward has died after being fatally shot in Lauderdale Lakes. The father of three was 31.

Broward Sheriff’s Office units responded to the scene of the shooting in the parking lot of J & L Liquors at 3875 NW 19th St., at around 12:30 a.m., Saturday.

Responding deputies found Ward lying on the ground suffering from a gunshot wound.

Deputies aided Ward until Broward Sheriff’s Fire Rescue arrived and transported him to Broward Health Medical Center, where he was later pronounced dead.

Saturday night, Ward’s sister-in-law, who identified herself as Toni, said his death deals a devastating blow to his loved ones.

“It’s a lot to take in, and that’s what really hurts the most, because he loved his kids a lot,” she said.

Now the devoted father won’t get to see them grow up.

“They are still small children, so they understand, but at the same time, they don’t,” said Toni.

According to detectives, Ward had pulled into the parking lot of the store in a party bus, and at some point, shots were fired.

“I see the man laying down on the ground. I believe he got shot in the head,” said witness Abdula Monther. “I try to help him, but I can’t do nothing, so I called 911.”

Hailing from Fort Lauderdale, Ward played running back for the Tennessee State Tigers from 2009 to 2012. In 2013, he signed on to the NFL with the St. Louis Rams.

“We are saddened to learn of the passing for former Tiger Trabis Ward,” the Tennessee State Tigers wrote on Twitter. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends, teammates and coaches.”

Toni said Ward was the life of the party in addition to being an all-star athlete.

“He can come anywhere, go anywhere and bright up the whole place. If he was upset or he was mad, he could make you laugh,” said Toni. “He was living how he wanted to live, doing what he loved to do, and somebody robbed him of that.”

As detectives continue their search for the unidentified subjects who shot Ward and fled, his family is now forced to pray for peace and hope for justice.

“It’s really hurtful, because this was someone who wanted the best for his family, the best for himself, the best for his kids,” said Toni. “He just wanted to live life. That was it.”

If you have any information on the shooting, call BSO or Broward County Crime Stoppers at 954-493-TIPS. Remember, you can always remain anonymous, and you may be eligible for a $3,000 reward.

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