Brian Urlacher talks about his mother's death
Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher had to leave the team for a while earlier this season due to the death of his mother, Lavoyda Lenard, on Sept. 12. In an interview with ESPNChicago.com, he talked about losing her.
Urlacher told ESPN's Rachel Nichols that the outpouring of support from around the National Football League was stunning.
"Guys who I had met before but I didn't have their phone numbers were texting me, calling me," Urlacher said. "I got some actual handwritten letters from some players. I couldn't tell you the last time I wrote a letter, to just sit down and write on a card to another player ... and some of the guys were in our division, so that was really cool. I didn't realize it would have this big of an effect, but it was really cool to see that kind of support."
Urlacher says that what he misses most is talking to his mother.
"She would always text me the night before games. That's what I miss. That's been the hardest thing to deal with so far. We still have her voice mail set up on her phone. We haven't canceled her phone yet, so if we want to call and listen to her voice, we can do that."
Although Lenard's death was unexpected, Urlacher said she didn't take the best care of herself.
"She wasn't in great health. She had a lot of back issues. She smoked. My mom smoked since she was 14 until she was 51, so that probably didn't help her situation any, but we're still waiting to find out what exactly happened."
Lenard's funeral was the day before the Bears played against the Saints in New Orleans, but that didn't stop several of his teammates from traveling to New Mexico for the service.
"It says what kind of teammates they are, and friends," Urlacher said. "The best thing I think I could have done is come back to work that week. It was hard for me to relax and have a good time, but they made me laugh. Those guys on their own dime, some of them chartered planes to come down ... it's not easy to get to my hometown where the funeral was."
-- Houston Mitchell
Photo: Brian Urlacher. Credit: Matt Slocum / Associated Press