MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A former Gopher football player who died last month was honored at the University of Minnesota’s spring graduation Thursday.

Tinsley’s mother, Ronda Tinsley, accepted the award on behalf of her son, who died a month ago from natural causes. His roommate found him dead in their University of Minnesota dorm room. Paramedics were unsuccessful reviving him. The Medical Examiner said he died of an enlarged heart.

A couple of weeks ago, some of Tinsley’s teammates made the trip to his home town of Jacksonville, Fla., for his funeral. Some of them considered him their brother.

At graduation, Tinsley was honored before other graduates received their diplomas. His parents stood alongside Dean Quam at the podium.

“We are conferring the Degree of Bachelor of Science for Gary Tom Tinsley, Junior,” said Jean Quam, Dean of the College of Education and Human Development. “His classmates, instructors and professors and others that knew him all acknowledged his work ethic, his leadership skills, and how infectious his smile was to all who knew him.”

Tinsley was remembered for being a diligent, innovative student in the classroom. On the field, he was remembered for being an accomplished linebacker who earned four Varsity letters.

Friends recently said that he made everyone feel special. He laughed, played jokes and put God and family first.

Tinsley hoped to graduate and play professional football. He accomplished one goal Thursday, but he will never have the chance to write that next chapter in his life.


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