WEST MIAMI-DADE, FLA. (WSVN) - Florida International University’s football team paid special tribute to a fallen teammate at their first home game of the season, weeks after he lost his life.
It has been just over two weeks since the sudden death of linebacker Luke Knox, and for the first time since his passing, his teammates took the field for the season opener against Bryant University, Thursday night.
“Our thoughts remain with Luke Knox, the Knox family, his friends and teammates,” said an announcer during a moment of silence observed before the start of the game.
The team’s captains carried Knox’s number 16 jersey as they made their way down the field.
Hours before the game, 7News cameras captured FIU Panthers players huddled together, some with their fists raised, as they stood in solidarity during practice.
During the game, Panthers players continued to honor Knox by adding a number 16 sticker on their helmets.
“We’re putting a sticker on our helmet, the number 16, ‘Knox,’ with his [birth and death] dates,” said Panthers head coach Mike MacIntyre.
Knox, 22, was found unresponsive at his FIU dorm on Aug. 17. He later died at an area hospital.
Investigators have not yet released the cause of death, but FIU Police said they don’t suspect foul play.
Knox’s teammates spoke with reporters earlier this week.
“When everybody was in the meeting room, really, Luke was always high energy. I love him, man, all the time, so it was a hard loss,” said defensive back Dorian Hall.
Knox, who was the younger brother of Buffalo Bills player Dawson Knox, played for Ole Miss before transferring to FIU. Thursday’s game would have been the start of his first season with the Panthers.
Those closest to him are still working through the grief.
“When something like that happens to you, it makes you look inside, retrospective, and I think that makes you look and put things back in kind of the right categories, the right perspective,” said MacIntryre.
The Panthers prevailed over Bryant, winning the close game 38-37 in overtime.
Following the game, MacIntyre said the team dedicate their win to Knox.
“It means a lot to us. It really means a lot to those young men in there,” he said, “but we didn’t also want to make too big a deal out of dedicating a game, if you know what I’m saying, ’cause he was so precious to all of us … I wanted to make it real, and the kids thought it was really real and really important.”
The head coach added that although Knox is no longer with them, his legacy lives on every time his teammates take the field.
“We’ll honor him all year, and we’ll continue to honor him for the rest of our lives,” he said.
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