Just a little over a month ago, Nick Bell was a starting defensive end for the Mississippi State Bulldogs.
Today, in one of the most unbelievably sad stories we’ve ever come across during our time here, Bell heartbreakingly has lost his brave battle with cancer.
Via a press release, the school has confirmed that Bell passed away earlier this afternoon. He was just 20 years old.
“This is a tragedy for Nick’s family, our football program, our community and everyone who had the privilege to meet and be around Nick Bell,” head coach Dan Mullen said in a statement. “Nick was a son and a brother to our football family and I know he will continue to look over us from heaven. Nick lived his life like a champion and will always be remembered in our hearts that way. During this impossible time, we pray for Nick’s family and all those he has touched.”
“There are few people in the world who have the unique ability to light up a room – Nick was one of those extraordinary individuals,” Mullen’s wife Megan said. “Every single one of us in the Bulldog football family is a better person for having Nick in our lives.”
“Rhonda joins with me and Bulldogs everywhere in expressing our sympathies to Nick Bell’s family, teammates, and friends during this difficult time,” Dr. Mark Keenum, Mississippi State University President, said. “Nick was an outstanding young man, who proudly represented our university with character and enthusiasm in everything he did. He was an exemplary student athlete, always giving the maximum effort on the football field and in the classroom. Nick left us too soon, and we mourn his passing, but we also celebrate the impact he made and fondly recount the many lives he touched in our Bulldog family.”
“Words can’t express our sadness,” said athletic director Scott Stricklin. “Nick was a model student-athlete – special in the classroom, on the field and to those whose lives he touched. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family, his teammates and his coaches. He will be missed by the entire Mississippi State community and our athletic department family.”
Bell, who had been sidelined since the Georgia game Sept. 25, had a mass removed from his brain in early October, which was later determined to be a form of skin cancer. After complaining of headaches Sunday morning, he was readmitted to the University of Alabama-Birmingham Hospital. Bell’s condition quickly worsened and he was placed in intensive care following emergency surgery Monday morning.
Mullen canceled a scheduled appearance at a MSU touchdown club meeting to be with his player Monday night. Several of his teammates did the same as word of his condition spread. This morning, reports emerged that Bell was in grave condition.
Now, he’s gone. At just 20 years of age. Damn.
Again, our thoughts, prayers and condolences go out to Bell’s family, friends and school for the tremendous loss they suffered today.
UPDATED 8:03 p.m. ET: The school has set up a memorial fund for the Bell family through the Bulldog Club, and donations can be made by calling 662-325-3074. The athletic department will also deliver messages and cards sent to the family. The department’s mailing address is PO Box 5308, Mississippi State, MS, 39762.