The New England Patriots paid tribute to their former wide receiver Reche Caldwell following reports he was killed on Saturday in Tampa, Florida.
Caldwell, 41, was shot in his leg and chest outside his home, according to TMZ.
Caldwell's mother, Deborah Caldwell, told the Tampa Bay Times: "You get killed right here in your hometown? You made a statement here, and y'all just took it away from us?
"All of us are imperfect people, but he's perfect to me. He was my hero."
Caldwell was the leading receiver on the 2006 Patriots, who lost to the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC Championship Game.
The Patriots said in a Twitter message: "We are deeply saddened to learn of the death of former Patriot Reche Caldwell. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends."
Caldwell played for the University of Florida before the San Diego Chargers selected him in the second round of the 2002 draft.
The Gators said: "We are deeply saddened by the loss of former Gator WR Reche Caldwell."
He had 152 catches for 1,851 yards and 11 touchdowns in an NFL career that also included a stint with the Washington Redskins.
The Chargers also expressed sorrow at hearing the news, saying: "Our thoughts and prayers go out to Reche’s family, friends and teammates during this difficult time."
Caldwell’s brother, Andre Caldwell, also played at the University of Florida and spent eight seasons in the NFL.