BOULDER, Colo. (AP) — Former teammates joined family and friends to say goodbye to 1994 Heisman Trophy winner Rashaan Salaam on Friday, remembering his warm heart and peaceful spirit.
About 250 people gathered for a funeral service for Salaam at the Islamic Center of Boulder near Folsom Field, where Salaam carved his name into the University of Colorado record book from 1992 to 1994.
He was found dead Monday night in a park not far from the school at the age of 42. His mother, Khalada, told USA TODAY Sports that police said they suspect he killed himself.
The service followed Friday's regular prayers. Some people sat on the floor while others sat on chairs brought into the center for the event. Afterward, Salaam's simple wooden casket was carried outside and mourners, including former Colorado coach Bill McCartney, lingered to talk and hug one another.
Imam Abdur-Rahim Ali told those at the service that they will be able to hold onto their memories of Salaam.
"We still have all the wonderful memories from our brother Rashaan, his good spirit, his appetite for good food. We still remember all those good things. We never forget those things. Those things are going to be with us forever," he said.
Former teammate T.J. Cunningham said he would remember Salaam's infectious smile and laugh and all the good times he and his children had hanging out with Salaam.
Michael Westbrook, who played with Salaam at Colorado and went on to play with the Cincinnati Bengals and Washington Redskins, said nothing seemed to be able to make Salaam mad. Any anger in a room would somehow disappear whenever Salaam entered, Westbrook said.
"That's just what he brought as a beautiful human being," he said.