Former Texas A&M walk-on tight end Luke Laufenberg died Thursday morning after a two-year battle with Burkitt’s lymphoma. He was 21.
Laufenberg was the son of the former Dallas Cowboy quarterback and TV personality Babe Laufenberg.
“We lost a son, a brother, a friend and a warrior,” Babe Laufenberg said in a statement. “We have never seen a person battle like Luke, but he lost his fight with cancer. He was truly inspirational. The hole in our hearts will never be filled. You are my hero. RIP my sweet Luke. See you on the other side.”
Luke Laufenberg walked on to the Aggie football team in 2016 under former head coach Kevin Sumlin and redshirted his one year on the squad.
“Those of us that knew Luke are truly saddened by his passing,” Sumlin said. “He approached every day with enthusiasm, hard work and a real passion for football. In a short time he earned the respect and friendship of his teammates and coaches alike. Our hearts, our thoughts and our prayers are with the Laufenberg family today.”
During his season with the Aggies, he roomed with linebacker Braden White, who was named the Aggies’ newest 12th Man this week.
“I didn’t know Luke for a whole long time, but when I was there with him as my roommate I could tell he’s a special person and he was going to be good at whatever he was going to do,” White said. “It was just a blessing to be able to know him.”
Laufenberg, who graduated from Argyle Liberty Christian High School, transferred from A&M to Mesa, where he learned of his cancer in December 2017. He was declared cancer free on May 3, 2018, then earned a football scholarship at Texas-El Paso under head coach Dana Dimel in January, after taking a year away from school and the football field. He was expected to start at tight end for the Miners this fall.
“Luke touched my heart and soul forever,” Dimel said in a statement. “His spirit and fight are a reminder to me of what it means to play and coach the game of football. As long as I am coaching, I will relay all the lessons that Luke taught me to the individual lives I will affect. He is forever a Miner.”
Laufenberg received a new cancer diagnosis on April 5, then on July 12, doctors told him that his condition was terminal. Days prior, the tight end was still running routes at home and watching UTEP practice film, Dimel told KTSM’s Andy Morgan.
“He never wanted to talk about what happened, because he felt like talking about what was going on would put us down,” UTEP fullback and Laufenberg’s roommate Forest McKee told KTSM. “The toughness he displayed, it just brought us all up.”
Laufenberg’s battle with cancer touched all levels of football, including the NFL. An emotional Dallas Cowboy head coach Jason Garrett took a moment of his press conference Thursday to pay tribute to Luke and the Laufenberg family.
“Luke was an amazing young man,” Garrett said. “You guys have heard me talk about fight a lot. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a better example of that in my life. You’d walk into the room, and he would just light up, whatever was going on. He just had this way, this strength unlike I’ve ever seen in my life. It’s such a tragedy. It’s so hard to understand, but I know I will and I know anyone who ever knew him will be forever inspired by the life that he lived.”