BOULDER, Colo. -- Friends and family gathered at Rashaan Salaam’s Boulder mosque on Friday to honor the former University of Colorado football star.
His teammates served as pallbearers and his father spoke during the service. The group then traveled to Mountain View Memorial to bury him.
His teammate and friend Michael Westbrook said his passing is hard to process.
“It’s hard to explain because it’s like disbelief at first, and then once it settles in, all the emotions come,” said Westbrook.
Teammates said they’ll remember Salaam has a gifted player and an even better friend.
“He never big timed you. Even though he won the Heisman and all he went through, he was never better than you,” Julian Hayward said.
“He is going to go down as one of the greats in Colorado History,” said Norman Barnett.
The CU football team plans to honor Salaam at the Alamo Bowl later this month. His teammates are also organizing another memorial service for people who could not attend Friday’s event.
Salaam, 42, was found dead Monday night in Eben G. Fine Park in Boulder.
Salaam's mother, Khalada, told USA Today that the Boulder Police Department suspects he killed himself. The Boulder Coroner's Office has not announced an official cause of death.
Police said foul play is not suspected.
Salaam played for the Buffaloes from 1992 to 1994. As a junior in 1994, he rushed for 2,055 yards and 24 touchdowns, leading CU to an 11-1 record and a win over Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl.
After leaving CU, Salaam was the Chicago Bears' first-round draft pick in 1995 and became the youngest player in NFL history to rush for 1,000 yards.
He was named NFC Rookie of the Year in 1995 after rushing for 1,074 yards and 10 touchdowns for the Bears.
By 1999, Salaam was struggling with injuries and fumbles.
He signed as a free agent with the Oakland Raiders in 1999, but ended up getting cut.
After that, he went to Cleveland but only played two games for the Browns.
In 2001, Salaam joined the short-lived XFL and played for the Memphis Maniax.
Salaam returned to the NFL and played for the San Francisco 49ers in 2003, but he was released before the season started.