Chiefs receiver Jeremy Maclin played Sunday in Houston only days after learning of the death of Isaiah DeLeon-Mares, a longtime friend he characterized as “my brother” in a post Monday night on multiple social media platforms.
“I don’t even know where to begin … this hurts,” Maclin wrote. “For 18 yrs he was by my side thru everything. He (saw) me at my worst and my best. One of the most selfless ppl I’ve ever had the privilege of knowing. I’m sorry we didn’t get to talk or see each other over the last couple of years but you will always be my brother. Rest easy Zay. I love you bro. #RIP.”
Maclin grew up with DeLeon-Mares, who was 29, in the St. Louis area. He later lived with him in New Jersey as DeLeon-Mares managed Maclin’s foundation when Maclin played for the Philadelphia Eagles.
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Before he missed practice last Thursday for what the Chiefs said were personal reasons, Maclin declined comment on the death of DeLeon-Mares, whom Maclin described “as my best friend, growing up, and to this day“ in a 2011 blog for GQ.com.
They first knew each other as rivals in fifth-grade football but ultimately became tight.
“We both dealt with plenty off the field,” Maclin wrote for GQ. “The bond we had was that … we grew up in pretty much the same circumstances. His door was always open to me when things got hard, and vice versa.
“You can’t manufacture something like that. We were side by side through the darkest moments, and we had a lot of fun in between those. …
“I went to Missouri, and he went to Yale University. We kept in touch by phone. He came down to visit a couple times, and I made it up to New Haven, too. … His college football career was cut short by concussions, but in the meantime he double-majored in History and African American Studies. The guy is educated. …
“He’s always been there. And I’m there for him.”
Maclin appeared off-kilter in the game against the Texans. Though he had six catches, Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith targeted him 15 times and Maclin uncharacteristically dropped two.
“I was just bad, man,” he said afterward.
Services for DeLeon-Mares are Tuesday in Wentzville, Mo.