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Wednesday, February 26, 2014
Updated: February 27, 5:58 PM ET
Ex-Giant Roy Simmons dies

By Jane McManus
ESPNNewYork.com

Former New York Giants right guard Roy Simmons, who was the second former NFL player to publicly say he was gay, died last Tuesday in the Bronx at the age of 57.

A spokesperson for the New York City Medical Examiner's Office said the cause and manner of death have not yet been determined.

Simmons disclosed his sexuality in 1992 on Phil Donahue's daytime talk show. David Kopay, a former running back for five teams, came out as gay in 1975.

Roy Simmons
Roy Simmons at a 2006 event in Columbus, Ohio, speaking in support of a bill to allow victims of sexual abuse to file lawsuits over alleged abuse that happened as early as 1970.

After playing football at Georgia Tech, Simmons was drafted by the Giants in 1979. He was a member of the 1984 NFC champion Washington Redskins, his final year in the league.

Former teammate Harry Carson said Simmons clearly loved the game of football.

"The memory I have of him is not what he did on the field," Carson said, "but the smile that he had on his face."

Simmons was diagnosed as HIV positive in 1997, according to James Hester, who co-wrote Simmons' autobiography "Out of Bounds: Coming Out of Sexual Abuse, Addiction and My Life of Lies in the NFL Closet."

In the book, he details his struggles with drugs and a devastating sexual assault from a family friend. Hester said he tried for years to overcome those setbacks, but never quite did.

Simmons is survived by four brothers and a sister, a daughter, Kara Jackson, and a grandson, Xavier.

His youngest brother Gary Simmons said the family hopes to bury Roy in Savannah, Ga., next to his mother Norma Jean, who died in 2009 of cancer. At the moment, the family is trying to raise the $24,000 it would take to have Simmons body embalmed and flown south.

"He was a very giving person not only to his family but to his friends," Gary Simmons said. "Coming out of the south during those times, poverty was very high and coming out of public assistance, he was able to bust out of that."