NFL Hall of Famer Dick Butkus died of a “cerebrovascular accident,” CBS Sports reported Wednesday, according to his death certificate issued by the Los Angeles Department of Public Health. The condition is more commonly known as a stroke.
Atrial fibrillation (irregular heartbeat), high cholesterol and atherosclerosis (thick/hardened arteries) are listed as secondary causes. His death certificate also states that Butkus underwent coronary bypass surgery in 2001.
PEOPLE has confirmed with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office that the Chicago Bears legend passed away at the age of 80 on October 5. TMZ Sports first broke the news.
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The Bears organization also shared a statement from Butkus’ family that the retired athlete “died peacefully in his sleep overnight.”
“The Butkus family confirms that football and entertainment legend Dick Butkus died peacefully in his sleep overnight at his home in Malibu, California,” the statement read. “The Butkus family gathers with Dick’s wife Helen. They appreciate your prayers and support.”
His professional football career began in college where he was a linebacker at the University of Illinois from 1962 to 1964. One of his highlights during that time was winning the Heisman Trophy.
“All I ever wanted to do was play football. It was the people factor that made me come here to Illinois,” Butkus said in 2016 after the University of Illinois retired his number. “I’m very proud to be a former Illini. I’ll always be an Illini.”
After his college career, Butkus nearly led the Chicago Bears and Denver Broncos in a war for his talent in the 1965-66 NFL Draft. Ultimately, he felt more at home in his hometown.
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His athleticism was so admired that Sylvester Stallone paid tribute to the linebacker by naming his dog Rocky after Butkus.
When the professional batsman retired in 1973, he left the sport with an enviable record – 1,020 tackles, 22 interceptions and 27 punt returns. Butkus was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1979.
Although he was no longer running games, Butkus remained close to the game. He worked as a sports commentator, and he still supports the local team.
“I loved doing it. The Bears were so good and when we went to the Super Bowl, it was a great year to broadcast because you knew they were going to win and you just make it exciting,” Butkus told WGN last year. “They were something else. That team was really something, man.”
Dick Butkus as Ed Klawicki in ‘My Two Dads’.
He didn’t stop there.
Butkus also caught the acting bug My two dadswhich ran from September 1987 to April 1990. He had a recurring role on the sitcom as diner owner Ed Klawicki, who was also a former football player.
Butkus is survived by his wife Helen and three children, Ricky, Matt and Nikki.
Links: NFL Hall of Famer Dick Butkus’ Cause of Death Revealed – Tekmonk Bio, NFL Hall of Famer Dick Butkus’ Cause of Death Revealed – Kungfutv, NFL Hall of Famer Dick Butkus’ Cause of Death Revealed – Hot News