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Former College Linebacker, 32, Dies from Valley Fever
AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall

For two seasons, linebacker Sterling Lewis was a big part of the Arizona Wildcats defense under then-head coach Mike Stoops. He was a “baller with the best personality,” former college football teammate Earl Mitchell said. Sadly, Lewis has passed away. He was only 32 years old.

Earlier this month, Lewis was hospitalized and diagnosed with valley fever, a fungal infection caused coccidioides organisms, according to Mayo Clinic. A GoFundMe page created on February 10, 2020 said “a rough bout with the flu turned to pneumonia, and Is now experiencing additional health complications.”

Lewis, who played at Blinn College in Texas before transferring to the University of Arizona, was in a medically induced coma and the announcement of his passing came on February 27.

Sterling Lewis Passes Away from Valley Fever

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In his two years in Tucson, Lewis racked up 98 tackles with three sacks and an interception for UA. He helped the Wildcats play in the Las Vegas Bowl and Holiday Bowl, and wore No. 52 in honor of Ray Lewis, according to the Arizona Daily Star.

Current Arizona coach Kevin Sumlin released a statement following Lewis’ death.

“The Arizona Football Family is deeply saddened by the passing of Sterling Lewis. The entire football program would like to extend our deepest sympathies to Sterling’s family and friends. His contagious passion, energy and enthusiasm will be missed.”

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Jack Welch, Lewis’ head coach at Copperas Cove (Texas) High School, added: “I’m very saddened to announce to all Dawgs, our brother Sterling Lewis passed away today from Valley Fever disease complications. Please remember his two children, wife and parents in your prayers. RIP Sterling.”

The GoFundMe page was set up to help support Lewis, his wife Ashley, and their boys before the announcement of Lewis’ death Thursday. As of Friday afternoon, it had over $14,500 raised. The goal was originally $10,000.

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Outpouring support on social media continues as well.

The valley fever contract in the Southwest is serious. Former Arizona linebacker Sterling Lewis will be missed.

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With over 10 years of sports writing experience, Brett has covered some of the top local, regional, and national sporting events in the Heartland for both print and digital platforms. He is a graduate of Kansas State University and resides in Austin, Texas.
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