A grieving father paid tribute to his son as an “inspiration” Monday after the college football player died from an apparent blood clot following minor surgery.
Portland State Vikings linebacker AJ Schlatter, 20, died late Sunday — two days after a routine operation to remove his tonsils.
“We lost our son tonight,” James A Schlatter posted on Facebook. “He was such an inspiration to me and I was and am so proud to be his father. In his 20+ years he became a greater man then I could ever dream of becoming!”
He added: “He loved being a member of the PSU Vikings football team and the players were like brothers to him.”
The freshman, who is from Canby, Oregon, died at 9:15 p.m. Sunday (12:15 a.m. Monday ET), his father said.
“I failed my son tonight,” he wrote. “I could not resuscitate him nor did the best efforts by EMS and the emergency room staff.”
"Things like this aren't supposed to happen"
Schlatter's dad added: “Parents, hug and love your kids today. Kids, tell your parents just how much you love them.”
PSU paid tribute to the player as “an outstanding student and committed athlete.”
"My heart is with the Schlatter family. They are our focus right now," Vikings head coach Bruce Barnum said in a statement. "We lost a diamond that will never be replaced. He was the definition of what we are about at PSU."
Schlatter was named Big Sky Conference Defensive Player of the Week for his performance in a win over Eastern Washington on Nov. 21. An online bio on the Vikings' site called him a "bid surprise" who "became a playmaker on defense."
"Things like this aren't supposed to happen,” the college's director of athletics Mark Rountree said. “We cherish every student's well-being, and the loss of AJ will be tough on our family. He represented his family and Portland State with passion, courage, and humility that made us all proud. He will be missed."
The statement added that Schlatter’s mother, father and one of his sisters had all played for PSU or coached teams there.