UTEP tight end Luke Laufenberg, the son of former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Babe Laufenberg, died of cancer Thursday at age 21.
Laufenberg was a walk-on a Texas A&M and played for Mesa Community College before he was diagnosed with Burkitt lymphoma in 2017, according to the Associated Press. He was declared cancer-free in 2018, though he was unable to play for UTEP and eventually faced additional complications this spring.
A number of UTEP players and coaches spoke about Laufenberg after they learned the news of his death:
Babe Laufenberg @BabeLaufenberg
Today we lost a son, a brother, a friend, and a warrior. Have never seen a person battle like Luke Laufenberg, but he lost his fight with cancer. He was truly inspirational. The hole in our hearts will never be filled. You are my hero. RIP my sweet Luke. See you on the other side https://t.co/HF1xfw19Xi
His father, Babe Laufenberg, 59, is a radio broadcaster for the Cowboys. He made a number of stops during his NFL career, spending time with Washington (1983–85, 1987), the San Diego Chargers (1985, 1988), New Orleans Saints (1986), Kansas City Chiefs (1987) and the Cowboys (1989–90).
Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett, a longtime friend of the Laufenberg family, didn't take any questions during his Thursday press conference, instead using the time to speak about Luke, per David Helman of the Cowboys' official site:
"Luke was an amazing young man. You guys have heard me talk about 'Fight' a lot. I don't know that I've ever a better example of that in my life. What he's gone through the last couple of years, the spirit that he had every day. To battle through it, to always be thoughtful about the people in his life—'How's my mom doing, how's my dad doing, how's my brother doing?' Amazing."
"It's such a tragedy, and it's so hard to understand," he added. "But I know that I will, and anybody that ever knew him, will be forever inspired by the life that he lived."