by Scott Benson

Fans and friends of the New England Patriots were shocked and saddened Monday by the news of the tragic passing of 24 year old defensive end Marquise Hill.

Hill drowned after being involved in a jet ski accident in his native New Orleans.

He may have had a rather forgettable career as a pro football player (despite great size and occasional explosiveness, he never fulfilled the expectations that came with being the 63rd player selected in the 2004 draft), but it is abundantly clear this morning that Hill made an indelible imprint on the lives of the people closest to him.

Hill was known in New Orleans not only for his contribution to LSU’s 2004 national championship team, but for his financial and emotional commitment to his hometown in the wake of the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina.

In New England, he was apparently known for that same caring and thoughtfulness, but also for a rare sense of humor that often lightened the daily load for his teammates. The sudden and tragic loss will no doubt be mostly deeply felt by those Patriots who shared an alma mater with Hill. Veteran defensive end Jarvis Green told the Associated Press that “I lost a brother.”

Randall Gay, who played at LSU with Hill, was among those who stood vigil as New Orleans officials searched Lake Pontchartrain, where the accident occured.

He leaves behind his mother, his fiance, and a young son. He is the first active Patriots player to perish in the 47 year history of the team.