Jason Hairston, ex-NFL player and Donald Trump Jr.'s hunting partner, dead at 47 after years of battling CTE symptoms

Former NFL player Jason Hairston, who joined Donald Trump Jr. on a hunting trip just weeks ago, died at age 47, his company announced Wednesday.

KUIU, the hunting gear company that Hairston founded, announced the “tragic passing.”

“We are shocked and saddened to announce the tragic passing of KUIU founder Jason Hairston. His legacy lives on in KUIU’s spirit of relentless innovation,” the company wrote on its social media pages.

Trump also paid tribute to his late friend, who he went hunting with in Yukon, Canada, in late August. He called his hunting partner “an inspiration to all outdoorsmen and women for generations to come.”

“Jason, I have no words. I will always remember our adventures and sharing a campfire with you. They will be some of my fondest experiences in the outdoors. You were and will continue to be an inspiration to all outdoorsmen and women for generations to come. Thanks for the friendship and the memories buddy. I’m going to miss you. R.I.P,” Trump wrote in a tribute post on Instagram.

Hairston grew up in Orange County, Calif., and played for the San Francisco 49ers and Denver Broncos before he retired at 24 due to neck problems, according to KUIU’s website. He became a successful businessman after retiring from the sport and launched a company focused on hunting gear, which he was passionate about.

Hairston had posted several photos of his outings with Trump. He and his family also paid a visit to the White House last December. 

The former linebacker also spoke openly about chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative brain disease found in athletes and others who have repetitive brain trauma.

"I played linebacker, and the way I played the game, I led with my head. I played the way they tell us not to play now," Hairston said in a 2016 interview with CNBC. "I have all the symptoms of CTE."

Katherine Lam is a breaking and trending news digital producer for Fox News. Follow her on Twitter at @bykatherinelam