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Former Patriots player Ron Brace dies at 29

Springfield native Ron Brace was a second-round pick of the Patriots in the 2009 NFL Draft.
Springfield native Ron Brace was a second-round pick of the Patriots in the 2009 NFL Draft.Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff/File 2009

Ron Brace, a former standout defensive tackle at Boston College and a second-round pick of the Patriots in 2009, died Saturday night. He was 29.

The Patriots confirmed Brace’s passing although a cause of death was not revealed.

Springfield police also confirmed the news and said an investigation is ongoing, though Captain Robert Strzempek told masslive.com the cause of death is not suspicious.

Brace played four years in the NFL (2009-12), all with the Patriots.

The team released a statement Sunday afternoon.

“We were deeply saddened to hear the news this morning of Ron Brace’s death. Seven years ago we drafted Ron after his standout career at Boston College,” the statement said. During his Patriots career, the Springfield native was always eager to volunteer and give back in our communities, especially when those community initiatives were held in Western Mass.

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“It is difficult to believe that someone so young and in the prime of his life is no longer with us. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Ron’s family, friends and the many former teammates who will mourn Ron’s passing.’’

Many of Brace’s friends and former teammates posted tributes to Brace on social media.

“Words cannot express how deeply saddened I am at the loss of my teammate my friend and my brother Ron Brace . . . Rest easy with the Lord Big Baby. Love you,’’ college teammate and current BC assistant coach Al Washington tweeted.

After a successful run at The Heights, where he teamed with B.J. Raji to form one of the nation’s best defensive fronts — the Eagles won ACC Atlantic Division crowns in 2007 and 2008 — the former star at Burncoat High in Worcester was drafted 40th overall. It was a Patriots draft class that also included Patrick Chung, Sebastian Vollmer, and Julian Edelman.

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Chung, drafted six slots ahead of Brace, tweeted “Love you Ron.’’ Patriots safety and captain Devin McCourty checked in with a tweet, “Rest in Peace bro . . . I’ll always remember you smiling and telling jokes . . . gone way too soon.’’

Brace was hampered by injuries and never reached the level expected of a second-round pick. The 6-foot-3-inch, 330-pounder started twice and played in nine games with eight tackles in his rookie season.

Though he started the first three games of the 2010 campaign after being switched to end, he eventually lost his starting job and ended the season on injured reserve with an elbow ailment. He started the 2011 season on the physically unable to perform list and was released in 2012. He signed with but never played for the Redskins. He finished his NFL career with 39 combined tackles in 39 games.

Brace is the third former Patriot to die this year. Fullback Kevin Turner, 46, who suffered from ALS, and defensive end Julius Adams, 67, also passed.


Jim McBride can be reached at james.mcbride@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @globejimmcbride.