Sam MillsOne of my favorite NFL players, Mills played as an undersized linebacker for the New Orleans Saints and the original Carolina Panthers team. He then went on to coach for the Panthers, continuing through his illness and treatment. A high-effort player, as I recall he usually had a smile on his face to let everyone know it was just a game, but a game he loved to play. He passed away today at the age of 45 from cancer.

As a coach, he made the players better. As a friend, he made us all better. – John Fox

The ESPN article says Mills is survived by his wife, Melanie, and four children: Sons Sam III and Marcus and daughters Larissa and Sierra.