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Charlotte FC quarterback Anton Walkes, 25, dies in Florida boat accident – ​​WSOC TV

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CHARLOTTE — Charlotte FC fullback Anton Walkes has died from injuries sustained in a boating accident that occurred Wednesday afternoon off the coast of Miami, officials said Thursday. He was 25 years old.

“Everyone at Tepper Sports & Entertainment is devastated by the tragic death of Anton Walkes. He was a tremendous son, father, partner and teammate whose light-hearted approach to life touched everyone he met,” said owner David Tepper in a statement. “Anton made those around him better people in all areas of life and represented Charlotte FC to the highest standard on and off the field. He will be greatly missed by many and our thoughts and prayers are with Anton’s family during this heartbreaking time. The Club offers its full support to all those affected during this time of mourning.”

The Royal Family, a Charlotte FC fan club, held a vigil Thursday outside the East Gate of Bank of America Stadium to honor Walkes’ life. The vigil began at 4 pm and dozens of fans brought cards, shirts, banners, flowers and posters to place at the gate. Charlotte FC owner David Tepper and the team arrived together, huddled around the memorial created by the fans.

Charlotte FC is more than just a football club for some fans.

“Our family is suffering right now,” fan Jorge Gonzalez told Canal 9 outside the stadium.

Will Palaszczuk, who calls Charlotte FC games for WFNX, said Walkes had been a friend since before they both moved to Queen City.

“Just the most charismatic individual, someone that all of his teammates who played with him loved him,” he said.

Palaszczuk said Walkes took great pride in creating a second home in Charlotte.

Anton’s legacy will always be part of the structure of this football club, said Palaszczuk.

The club posted a video Tuesday night of the team at DRV PNK Stadium in Fort Lauderdale.

Florida wildlife officials told Channel 9 that Walkes was found unconscious after two boats collided in the water near the basin of Miami Marine Stadium around 3pm on Wednesday. He was brought to shore and taken to hospital in critical condition, officials said.

Walkes was operating one of the boats that crashed, the state agency said in a statement.

It was not clear if anyone else was injured. The agency’s investigation is ongoing.

Walkes was selected by Charlotte FC from the roster of Atlanta United FC in the 2021 MLS Expansion Draft. He played 23 games for Charlotte FC.

He was acquired by Atlanta United in 2020, where he had previously been loaned out. He started 65 times in three total seasons with the team.

Before moving to Atlanta, he was at Tottenham Hotspur Football Club Academy in London.

“We are heartbroken by the loss of Anton Walkes, a truly incredible father, loving person and exceptional human being,” said Sporting Director Zoran Krneta. “Anton embodied what it means to be part of the Charlotte Football Club and our entire community is mourning this tragedy. The impact he made in the locker room and on Charlotte will never be forgotten. We are thinking of your lovely family during this time and will fully support you in every way imaginable.”

Charlotte FC said it would not release further information at this time out of respect for Walkes’ friends and family.

On Thursday, fans and supporters around the world found ways to honor him. In Charlotte, dozens of supporters gathered to pay their respects. And during that day’s match, Tottenham Hotspur players wore black arm bands.

Walkes’ impact was felt beyond the field. A club official described him as a true light in the world, reports Phil Orban of Channel 9.

Tributes poured in on social media from his teammates – Jaylin Lindsey called Walkes the best teammate he could have asked for. Brandt Bronico said he was absolutely heartbroken and thankful for being who he was.

You can read their tributes — and others — below:

This is a story in development. Come back for updates.

(WATCH THE PREVIOUS BELOW: Charlotte FC Pick 2: Anton Walkes)

The Associated Press contributed to this report.