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Former U of M offensive tackle dies from cancer at 22

Nick Connelly in 2014. Forum News Service file photo

MINNEAPOLIS -- Former University of Minnesota offensive tackle Nick Connelly died Wednesday, Sept. 19, after a four-month battle with cancer, his father announced on Twitter. He was 22.

The Red Wing native was diagnosed in June with Burkitt’s lymphoma, a cancer that attacks immune cells.

“Nick was winning the battle through aggressive chemotherapy until the cancer became resistant to all chemo regimes,” Chuck Connelly wrote. “Nick was a beautiful, big, strong, young athlete with a very kind heart and a great smile.

“Our heart breaks and is devastated with losing Nick. We want to thank the thousands of friends, family and complete strangers from across the entire country that extended our prayers, kindness and love to Nick and our family.”

Connelly, who was 6-foot-7 and 300 pounds, had “medically retired” from the Minnesota program last season after he suffered his fifth concussion.

Connelly was an Associated Press all-state first team player at Red Wing in 2014.