Former UT safety Dave Bennett dies at 42

Dave Bennett and his wife Paige talking about his battle against Lou Gehrig's disease in October 2011.

Photo by Alan Spearman/Commercial Appeal

Dave Bennett and his wife Paige talking about his battle against Lou Gehrig's disease in October 2011.

MEMPHIS — Dave Bennett, a former University of Tennessee football player, died Monday morning after a 2½-year battle with Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease.

Bennett, 42, was diagnosed with ALS after sustaining a concussion following a fall from a snowboard. Bennett fought the disease with a positive attitude, his wife, Paige, said.

"Dave was a fighter by spirit, a competitor," she said. "He always had a winning attitude. Everything he did, he did it wholeheartedly. He was not going to let this disease take him down easily. That's how Dave will be remembered, just one that was full of life, full of spirit.

"As far as the disease was concerned, he fought it. ... He was not going to let it win."

Bennett's battle was chronicled in an October 2011 column by The Commercial Appeal's Geoff Calkins. Bennett had difficulty speaking at the time, but would flash a thumbs-up when asked how he was doing. "He is quick with the thumbs-up," Calkins wrote.

The positive approach couldn't help but rub off on friends and family members who watched him battle the disease, Paige said.

"At times, it made it difficult just watching him suffering," she said. "But he always told us, myself and the kids, to fight this disease. We are to rise above and press on despite our circumstances. That's the attitude he taught us to have through this.

"Until he breathed his last breath (Monday) morning, he never gave up."

After playing for Germantown High School, Bennett signed with UT and played safety for the Vols from 1989-92. He started his final two seasons, finishing his career with 57 tackles.

Bennett also is survived by sons Blake, 16, and Riley, 11.

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Comments » 18

DavidWebb writes:

Praying for the Bennett family.

PureOrange writes:

Such a sad story. May God comfort this family.

pingkr62 writes:

Prayers going out for the Bennett family. I have had to watch this disease take a family member. I can say with all honesty that if I ever contract A.L.S. all I want is a pistol with one round. Call me a coward if you want, but I will not put my family through that nightmare.

UTKin1992 writes:

We graduated at the same time...life is too short.

PUL4VOLS writes:

Sorry to hear this may he rest in Peace. Lou G's disease is really a monster to face.

orangecountyvols writes:

RIP Dave. I enjoyed watching you play.
God bless your family during this difficult time and in the many days moving forward.

volcam writes:

I too had a very good friend who fought valiantly against this cruel disease ALS. I know the Vol nation feels empathy for this courageous man and his family. Mr. Bennett was a fine player and a great role model. He leaves us with a strong heritage.

emailnodata (Inactive) writes:

ALS is one of those afflictions where you simply shake your head and say "seriously, why??"

tnvol4ever writes:

Sounds like this family has lost a great husband and dad. Sorry to hear the news. May God bless this family.

ajwlfw#574737 writes:

Very sad news. He is a VFL. Tough competitor and a good man. RIP

atnvol#283282 writes:

I too will be praying for the Bennett family....especially his young sons.

mloaks#222092 writes:

Lord, have mercy

baldingalum writes:

There is absolutely no disease in the world that is more cruel than this one. It is absolutely tragic.

agarn writes:

Very tragic. Thoughts and prayers with the family.

JOHNWARD4EVER writes:

Thoughts and prayers to the Bennett family.
VFL!!

ashvol7 writes:

May the peace of Christ be with the family. Thanks for being a VOL!

OrangeBloodFlood writes:

May the peace which surpasses all understanding be with your family.

volswinsome writes:

Our condolences & prayers to your family and friends.

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