TORONTO – Ricky Bell, an NFL defensive back who went on to play in the CFL and won a Grey Cup with Calgary in 2001, has died. He was 36.
He died Feb. 17 in Columbia, S.C., although no cause was given, Leevy's Funeral Home in Columbia said. Bell's mother, Florence Bell, and girlfriend, Tanisha Means, would not comment on the cause to The Canadian Press.
Bell was a captain at North Carolina State and played three seasons in the NFL with Jacksonville and Chicago. He spent one season in NFL Europe and another in the XFL before joining the CFL in 2001.
In Canada, he played for Calgary, Ottawa, Winnipeg and Montreal before leaving the league in 2007. His career ended in 2008 with the Arena Football League's Georgia Force.
"He was a competitor," said B.C. Lions coach Wally Buono, who coached Bell in Calgary "He was a good guy. He was a good football player and helped us win a Grey Cup."
Florence Bell said her son always wanted to be a football player.
"I remember my brother saying, 'Rick, you know the chances of you playing professional ball are one in a million?'" she said. "And he looked at my brother and said, 'Well, uncle, I'm going to be that man. I'm going to be that one.'"
After Bell retired from football, he returned to South Carolina and went into real estate.
Bell is also survived by a daughter, Nyla.