Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher left the team to be with his family Tuesday after his mother, Lavoyda Lenard, died at her home outside of Mount Pleasant, Texas.
"My mother, Lavoyda, unexpectedly passed away Monday at her home in Texas," Urlacher said in a statement. "My first priority right now is to be with my family as we mourn her loss and make the arrangements to lay her to rest. This is a very difficult and emotional time for us and I sincerely ask that you respect our privacy. Thank you."
Lenard was 51. Lt. Brent Smith of the Titus County (Texas) Sheriff's Office said there was no evidence of foul play.
"Our thoughts and prayers going out to Brian and his family" read a tweet from Bears quarterback Jay Cutler.
Urlacher's status for Sunday's game in New Orleans against the Saints is uncertain.
"That's going to be tough for our football team (if Urlacher doesn't play Sunday), but we're understanding," Bears receiver Roy Williams said. "Whoever takes his spot (if necessary) will play well.
"My thoughts and prayers go out to him and his family. He is the emotional leader of the football team, so we have his back."
Defensive end Israel Idonije echoed the support.
"Our hearts are with him," Idonije said. "It's one of those times that you can't imagine, and 100 percent of our support is with him.
"At the end of the day, family and life comes first."
Cutler said Wednesday afternoon that it would be impossible to replace Urlacher if the linebacker is unable to play Sunday.
Since 2008, the Bears are 21-13 with Urlacher in the lineup and 7-8 without him.
"You can't replace a guy like him," Cutler said. "He's the heart and soul of this team."
ESPNChicago.com's Jeff Dickerson and Michael C. Wright contributed to this report.
She was too young. Thoughts and prayers to family and friends. RIP Ms. Lenard
Clowns to the left of me, Jokers to the right....
September 14th, 2011, 4:17 pm
Joined: January 26th, 2005, 9:34 pm Posts: 10812 Location: Sycamore, IL
Re: Mother of Brian Urlacher dead at 51
It's unfortunate that this is a headline on espn - urlacher said respect his privacy, so espn puts it up there with a discussion and interview of urlacher and multiple teammates.