Dwight Clark, the receiver who made one of the most memorable plays in NFL history and jump-started the San Francisco 49ers dynasty, died Monday at his home in Montana.
Clark, who had been battling amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) since he first began feeling weakness in his left hand in September of 2015, was 61 years old.
Clark’s wife, Kelly, shared the news of her husband’s death via his Twitter account.
I’m heartbroken to tell you that today I lost my best friend and husband. He passed peacefully surrounded by many of the people he loved most. I am thankful for all of Dwight’s friends, teammates and 49ers fans who have sent their love during his battle with ALS. Kelly Clark.
— Dwight Clark (@DwightC87) June 4, 2018
“The San Francisco 49ers family has suffered a tremendous loss today with the passing of Dwight Clark,” the team said in a statement. “We extend our condolences and prayers to Dwight’s wife, Kelly, his family, friends and fans, as we join together to mourn the death of one of the most beloved figures in 49ers history. For almost four decades, he served as a charismatic ambassador for our team and the Bay Area. Dwight’s personality and his sense of humor endeared him to everyone he came into contact with, even during his most trying times. The strength, perseverance and grace with which he battled ALS will long serve as an inspiration to so many. Dwight will always carry a special place in our hearts and his legacy will live on as we continue to battle this terrible disease.”
Clark first disclosed his diagnosis in March 2017 on former 49ers owner Ed DeBartolo Jr.’s website, but said in that statement that he began feeling weak in 2015. After what he called months of tests and treatment, Clark was diagnosed with ALS, which is also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
In the time since his diagnosis, Clark said he had lost strength in both hands, his midsection, lower back and his right leg while also losing significant weight. DeBartolo helped Clark and his family relocate in March to be near him in Whitefish, Montana. In April, DeBartolo hosted a group of about 30 friends and former 49ers to visit Clark at his Montana ranch.
Garrison Hearst, who was among the former teammates who visited Clark in Montana recently, tweeted that “We lost a great one.”
🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿 Rest In Peace!!! We lost a great one!!! Love you brother!!! pic.twitter.com/FT6lE4qAGD
— Garrison Hearst (@garrisonhearst5) June 4, 2018
“Today, I lost my little brother and one of my best friends,” DeBartolo said in a statement. “I cannot put into words how special Dwight was to me and to everyone his life touched. He was an amazing husband, father, grandfather, brother and a great friend and teammate. He showed tremendous courage and dignity in his battle with ALS and we hope there will soon be a cure for this horrendous disease.
“I will always remember Dwight the way he was — larger than life, handsome, charismatic and the only one who could pull off wearing a fur coat at our Super Bowl parade. He was responsible for one of the most iconic plays in NFL history that began our run of Super Bowl championships, but to me, he will always be an extension of my family. I love him and will miss him terribly. Our hearts and prayers are with his wife Kelly, his children and the entire Clark family.”
The 49ers held “Dwight Clark Day” last season at an Oct. 22 game against the Dallas Cowboys.
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SOURCE: ESPN, Nick Wagoner