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JACKSON, Miss. – Former Jackson State football star and Carolina Panthers defensive back Rashard Anderson has died at age 45, the university announced Wednesday.

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According to The Clarion-Ledger, the Panthers selected Anderson, a Mississippi native who played for the Jackson State Tigers from 1996 to 1999, in the first round of the 2000 NFL draft. He went on to play in 27 games for the Panthers, making nine starts in two seasons before he was released, the newspaper reported.

Anderson played briefly for the Canadian Football League’s Calgary Stampeders in 2005 before working as a substitute teacher and assistant high school football coach in Mississippi, according to The Clarion-Ledger. He also was inducted into the JSU Sports Hall of Fame, the university said in a news release.

“Today is a sad day for the JSU family,” Ashley Robinson, JSU vice president and director of athletics, said in a statement Wednesday. “Rashard was one of the best players in the history of our football program and an outstanding person. He attended our spring football game in April and was excited about the program returning to championship status. Rashard will always be remembered by Jackson State University, and our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this time.”

University President Thomas K. Hudson added that Anderson “made an indelible mark on the gridiron” and throughout his NFL career.

“He will forever be remembered for his charismatic personality and his winning attitude,” Hudson said in a statement. “Our condolences to the Anderson family and friends.”

Anderson’s cause of death wasn’t immediately clear.