The kind-hearted nature of tragic ex-NFL star Ryan Mallett has been laid bare by the mother of a slain high school student coached by the quarterback.
Ben Redix, 18, was coached by Mallett at White Hall in Arkansas before he was shot and killed just days before his graduation in May.
And such was his bond with the boy, Redix’s mother has revealed ‘I think he thought Ben was his son,’ in an interview with KARK 4 News.
In a tragic turn of events, Mallett lost his life in an apparent drowning incident while on holiday with his girlfriend in Destin, Florida on Tuesday.
The news will have come as a sickening blow to the mother of Redix, Shaneisha Robinson, who also revealed that Mallett had been acting as her confidant in the months after her son was killed.
Ryan Mallett (right) is pictured with Ben Redix, one of his players who was shot dead in May
Redix’s mother Shaneisha Robinson has explained that Mallett was helping her through it
Redix was shot dead at the age of 18, just days before his White Hall High School graduation
Mallett is pictured coaching the football team at White Hall High School before his death
Robinson attended her son’s funeral recently, and has now lost a close friend in Mallett
‘Sometimes he would come over here crying or I’d go over there crying,’ she said, before adding that the news was ‘like somebody pouring alcohol on an open wound.’
She went on to explain that she had spoken to Mallett before he went on vacation when he stopped by to let her know he was going away, insisting that she contact him if she needed anything.
‘He said “Little Bit, I’m going out of town.” He said “I love you” and I said I love you too, bring me something back,’ she explained.
Shortly after, Mallett too had lost his life at the age of 35, with tributes pouring in from around the football world and beyond.
Madix’s mother also told a heartwarming story about the nurturing character of Mallett, and how he came to their house to help the young boy.
‘Ben didn’t want to go to practice one day, and he said, “Mama if coach come, tell him I’m sick.” Ryan came and knocked on the door and I said he was in his room. So, he went in the room and said, “Boy get up and go to practice.”‘
Destin Beach Safety, meanwhile, said in a statement that there were no riptides present in the area around where Mallett was found on Tuesday, and said yellow safety flags were in place, correcting earlier reports that his death was due to the conditions of the water.
Okaloosa County Sheriff Eric Alden added, ‘It just seems to be a tragic accident and not something to do with the conditions of the surf or tides or currents.’
According to Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office investigators, Mallett ‘began struggling while attempting to swim to a second sandbar about 150 feet offshore of the beach near Gulf Shores Drive in Destin around 2.15pm.’
Mallett was on vacation with his girlfriend Madison Carter, KNWA reported. The ex-player went Facebook official with Carter less than a month ago, on June 1
Former football player Mallett passed away at the age of 35 in a drowning accident in Florida
Destin Beach Safety has said the conditions in the water were moderate when Mallett died
The Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office confirmed Mallett’s death in a statement.
‘A tourist died in an apparent drowning offshore of Gulf Shore Drive in Destin,’ it read on Tuesday evening.
‘A group of individuals were reportedly struggling offshore when a man went under.
‘He was not breathing when lifeguards found and pulled him out. Tragically lifesaving measures weren’t successful.’
Mallett was taken from a Florida beach to the hospital after first responders were called to the area at 2.12pm. He was pronounced dead at the Destin emergency room.
Destin Beach Safety said in its statement that a beach attendant had called 911, reporting six individuals struggling to get back to shore.
Mallett was on vacation with his girlfriend Madison Carter, KNWA reported.
The former Arkansas Razorbacks star went on to play for the New England Patriots, Houston Texans and Baltimore Ravens in the NFL.
The Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office has released bodycam footage of the incident
Mallett starred for the Arkansas Razorbacks before going onto a career in the NFL
Legendary quarterback Tom Brady paid tribute to his ex-teammate late on Tuesday night
His time in New England included backing up seven-time Super Bowl winner Tom Brady for two seasons.
‘We lost a great man. Thank you for you everything Ryan,’ Brady wrote Tuesday night.
‘Praying for the Mallett family and all their loved ones tonight.’
Mallett’s former New England coach, Bill Belichick, also paid tribute to his former player on Tuesday night.
‘I am extremely saddened by Ryan’s tragic passing. My thoughts and prayers are with his family and the many people whose lives he touched.’
Tiffany Seeley, the ex-wife of ex-NFL star Mallett, also paid tribute to him on Instagram
Mallett walks off the field during a game with the Baltimore Ravens in the 2015 season
Mallett puts his arm round Tom Brady (left) during a Patriots practice session in 2013
Mallett played in the NFL from 2011 to 2017 after a college career with Michigan and Arkansas, and threw 62 touchdowns in two seasons with the Razorbacks.
He returned to the latter state to coach at White Hall High School, taking up the role in February 2022.
‘It is with great sadness that we share the loss of Coach Ryan Mallett,’ White Hall School District said in a statement on Tuesday.
‘Coach Mallett was a beloved coach and educator. We ask that you remember his family, team, students, fellow coaches, and the White Hall School District staff in your prayers.’