Retired NFL star Todd Heap receives outpouring of support following death of daughter

By Ainhoa Barcelona

Condolences continue to pour in for former NFL player Todd Heap, who accidentally killed his three-year-old daughter last week. Todd was driving his truck at home in Mesa, Arizona when he hit his youngest child. The little girl, who was the fifth and youngest child of Todd and his wife Ashley, was rushed to hospital where she later died.

The Heaps have received incredible support and sympathy from their friends, including football players who Todd used to play with. The American football tight end played 12 seasons in the NFL, ten of which were with the Baltimore Ravens followed by the Arizona Cardinals. Following the heartbreaking news, the Arizona Cardinals released a statement saying: "Our hearts go out to Todd, Ashley and the Heap family. It is a grief that is beyond words and one which no family should ever experience. Hopefully the prayers, love and support of their incredible group of friends and family provide them comfort along with their strong faith will lead them through this unspeakably difficult time."

Meanwhile, the Baltimore Ravens called the accident "an overwhelmingly sad tragedy" and began their statement with: "We cannot imagine the heartbreak and sorrow Todd and Ashley's family feels right now." Torrey Smith, who played for the Baltimore Ravens, wrote on Twitter: "Prayers up for Todd Heap and his family." Jay Feely, who played with Todd on the Arizona Cardinals, also tweeted: "My heart is broken for Todd Heap and his family. One of the kindest persons I've ever met and a man who lives for his family."

Even footballers with no ties to the Ravens or Cardinals expressed their sadness and sent their condolences. Chad Greenway, the former Minnesota Vikings linebacker, tweeted: "Praying for Todd Heap and his family. It could happen to anybody, and I can't imagine the grief." JJ Watt, who played for the Houston Texans, posted: "Absolutely gutted for Todd Heap and his family. Thoughts are with them in this incredibly tough time." Duane Brown, Houston Texans all-pro left tackle, tweeted: "Oh my God. This is the worst thing I've read in a long time. RIP to that little girl and praying for his strength." And Anthony Adams, footballer for the San Francisco 49ers and Chicago Bears, wrote: "Praying for Todd Heap and family right now!!! Condolences to you and your family."

Stars gone too soon in 2017

Todd, a devout Mormon, has previously spoken about how his family means everything to him. "I just got done jumping on the trampoline with my two-year-old daughter," Todd, 37, told Kevin Byrne in 2015. "And it's hard to get a bigger smile than that. I took all three of my boys golfing this morning. That was a lot of fun. (My wife) Ashley makes me smile every day. Family and all of the events we do, that regularly makes me smile."

HELLO! Canada magazine is available for your tablet and smartphone. Get HELLO! Canada, PEOPLE, Vanity Fair and over 100 more of the world’s best magazines for one low monthly price at Texture by Next Issue. CLICK HERE to sign up for a free trial.