As Dak Prescott enters the most pivotal year of his NFL career, he does so with a heavy heart. Back in April, the Dallas Cowboys quarterback suffered a tragic loss when his brother, Jace, died unexpectedly. With the 2020 NFL season set to begin, Prescott opened up about his brother’s death by suicide while drawing attention to issues such as depression, anxiety, and mental health.
Dak Prescott lost his mom to cancer in 2013
Before he became a fourth-round steal by the Cowboys, Dak Prescott played his college ball at Mississippi State University. After attempting just 29 passes as a redshirt freshman, he entered the 2013 season with a chance to cement his place as the team’s starting quarterback. While that year represented a step forward on the field, Prescott had to deal with a devastating loss that had nothing to do with football.
On November 3, 2013, his mother, Peggy, died after a long battle with colon cancer. According to Sports Illustrated, Prescott’s mom continued to travel to Starkville, Miss., to attend her son’s games despite her health challenges. Even after undergoing surgery and chemotherapy, she passed away right as her son’s college career began to take off.
Over the next two years, Prescott became one of the best players in the SEC all while dealing with the loss of his mother. He set up the Faith Fight Finish Foundation in her honor and has continued to promote cancer awareness initiatives since joining the Cowboys in 2016.
Jace Prescott died in April
For Dak Prescott, this year has been full of challenges. First, his contract situation remained a major storyline throughout the offseason. Ultimately, he and Jerry Jones failed to come to terms on a multi-year extension. Still, he can’t complain about a $31 million payday after making less than $5 million in his first four years in the NFL.
However, Prescott suffered a devastating loss in April with the unexpected death of his older brother, Jace. On April 23, the Cowboys announced that Prescott’s brother passed away, though no cause of death was provided. At just 31 years old, Jace’s death certainly came as a surprise.
After remaining silent about the topic for months, the 27-year-old QB finally spoke about his brother’s death at an Aug. 12 press conference.
“It’s tough, obviously. He meant a lot to my family. He meant a lot to me,” Prescott said. “He’s part of the reason I am a quarterback. When I was a little kid, he’s the reason that I first started throwing the football.”
Prescott opens up about his brother’s suicide
After breaking his silence about his brother’s death in August, Dak Prescott provided more insight in a recent interview with Graham Bensinger. Prescott revealed that his brother died by suicide. And according to the Cowboys QB, his mother’s death had a major impact on his brother’s mental health.
“You can’t even put into words the burden,” Prescott said. “It’s something only Jace knew. And he didn’t necessarily share that. Jace never was really much of a talker. When something like that was a huge burden on him, he didn’t know how to share it—didn’t know how to be vulnerable about it.”
Depression and anxiety even became issues for the Cowboys QB prior to his brother’s death. Prescott revealed that he finally got his first good night’s sleep in quite some time when he awoke to missed calls from his brother, Tad. Prescott’s father walked into his bedroom and delivered the news of his brother’s death.
After losing his mother and one of his brothers before he turns 28, Dak Prescott has a better understanding of the importance of mental health. The Cowboys QB provided advice for those dealing with depression.
“It showed me how vulnerable we have to be as humans—how open we have to be,” Prescott said. “Our adversities, our struggles, what we go through is always gonna be too much for ourselves and maybe too much for even one or two people, but never too much for a community or never too much for the people in the family that you love. So you have to share these things.”
How to get help: In the U.S., call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. Or text HOME to 741-741 to connect with a trained crisis counselor at the free Crisis Text Line.