To most people in Aurora, Colorado, Anthony Cunningham was known as a dedicated educator and amazing Assistant Principal at their high school. But, to the rest of the nation, he was a superstar on the gridiron, T. J. Cunningham who not only rocked the gridiron for their beloved UC 'Buffs' but went on to play for the NFL.
Now, we learn the sad news that this icon of all that is good and decent in this world, was killed in a senseless altercation over a most insignificant issue. Yet, as with many acts of violence, the silly disagreement escalated until one of the participants was left dead in its wake.
The 46-year-old’s life was tragically cut short on Sunday afternoon when Cunningham and a neighbor got into one final altercation over a long-standing dispute over a parking spot.
TMZ reports, “Officials say Cunningham and 31-year-old Marcus Johnson -- who lives across the street from Cunningham -- agreed to meet near the high school to settle the beef, but Johnson brought a gun. Cops say Cunningham did NOT have a firearm.”
During the course of the altercation, Johnson allegedly shot the former NFL player multiple times. Cunningham was rushed to the hospital where he later died of his wounds. Johnson has been arrested on suspicion of first-degree murder. According to the police, the murder weapon has been recovered.
A standout at the University of Colorado, Cunningham was drafted by the Seattle Seahawks in 1996. Sustaining a serious knee injury in his ninth game with the team, Cunningham was put on the disabled list for the remainder of his contract.
After his football career ended, the former pro safety went on to influence thousands with his leadership qualities, love of life, and integrity. His second and most long-lasting career was in the halls of learning at Hinckley High School in Aurora.
Aurora Public Schools made the following announcement:
“We are deeply saddened that one of our assistant principals, Anthony (TJ) Cunningham passed away earlier today. Our hearts are broken for Mr. Cunningham’s family. Our thoughts and prayers are with them during this tragic time.
‘We will have additional counselors available at Hinckley High School throughout the week for students and staff who need additional support. We ask everyone to please keep Mr. Cunningham’s family in your thoughts.”
The entire Auror, Colorado community and all who knew TJ have reached out to his grieving family at this sad time.
“Prayers to the Cunningham family!! TJ was one of the most passionate people I had the opportunity to play with at Colorado. He would challenge you every day on and off the field and was a true leader!! He will be deeply missed.” 🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏
T. J. Cunningham leaves behind his wife, Kristi, and five children. A GoFundMe account has been set up to help the family with the financial burden of the horrific loss.
According to the site, “TJ always stood up for what was right and looked out for people who could not speak up for themselves. It's not a coincidence that his career path led to helping children through education as the Assistant Principal at Hinkley High School. His warm presence and generous spirit has touched the lives of countless friends, colleagues & kids.”
What a terrible loss for not only this sweet family but for the community at large. Cunningham was an amazing role model for the students he worked with and it's a tragedy that he will no longer be there to help impressionable teens find their way as they navigate the often-troubling high school years.
Please join us in praying for all the people who are suffering today because of the senseless taking of T.J. Cunningham's life.