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Son of Bucs kicker Bryant dies

Bucs kicker Matt Bryant poses with his wife, Melissa, and son Matthew Tryson on Sept. 14.

Courtesy of the Bryant family

Bucs kicker Matt Bryant poses with his wife, Melissa, and son Matthew Tryson on Sept. 14.

TAMPA — Matthew Tryson Bryant, the 3-month-old son of Buccaneers kicker Matt Bryant and his wife, Melissa, died at the couple's home Wednesday morning.

"We had a terrible tragedy this morning," Bucs coach Jon Gruden said, announcing the news after practice. "We lost a key member of our family.

"My understanding was the young man didn't wake up this morning. It's shocking."

Deputies from the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office responded to the Bryant family's address about 7:30 a.m.

Sheriff's spokeswoman Debbie Carter said the baby's mother discovered the infant was not breathing as she made the rounds to wake up the other children — Daniel, Jacob, Joshua, Madison and Tre — for school.

The death is not considered suspicious, Carter said.

"The entire Buccaneer family is deeply saddened by this tragedy," Bucs general manager Bruce Allen said. "The Bryants have been an inspiration to the entire community through their commitment to their family and their exhaustive efforts working with children and those in need in the bay area. Our thoughts and prayers are with Matt and Melissa during this difficult time."

After practice, the team knelt together in prayer.

The Bryant family issued a statement Wednesday: "Tryson enriched our lives for the short time that he was with us and we will never forget his smile. We know Tryson's death has deeply touched the community and we appreciate the love and prayers from our Buccaneers fans."

Bryant and his wife have been involved in charitable work to benefit children. Their son, Tre, who turns 2 on Monday, spent three weeks in an incubator at St. Joseph's Women's Hospital. At the time of his birth, he weighed only 3 pounds, 10 ounces.

In 2007, Bryant was the Bucs' nominee for the NFL's Walter Payton Man of the Year, an annual award honoring a player's off-the-field community service and playing ability.

He partnered with Raymond James Financial in the Kicking for Kids program that donated $1,000 for every field goal and $500 for every extra point in 2007.

Scott Talcott, executive director of Tampa's Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, said the news came as a shock to his entire staff late Wednesday afternoon.

"We are just mourning with them," he said. "They just give and give to us. So when we heard, our hearts went out to them."

The Bryants volunteered with the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and helped raise nearly $60,000 at Tampa Tailgate Kickoff to a Cure on Sept. 12.

It was the couple's second year of participation.

"Melissa is really one of those energetic, involved people," Tal­cott said. "She's in there helping with setup and everything you could ask a committee member to do. This is a blow to all of us. They're just really nice and genuinely good people you would want to be around."

Matt Bryant also has done work with the Special Olympics and March of Dimes.

Bucs players, particularly punter Josh Bidwell, who holds kicks for Bryant, were hit hard by the news.

"Having kids of my own, I couldn't imagine the pain that is associated with such a terrible loss," Bidwell said. "The entire extended Buccaneers family will be there for the Bryants in every way possible to help them during this difficult time."

Any decision about who will kick Sunday against the Packers can wait, Gruden said.

"This puts things in real perspective," Gruden said. "We'll deal with it from a football standpoint. We're just worried about Matt's personal standpoint. He and Melissa, they're great friends."

In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that donations be made in Tryson's name to March of Dimes, 405 N Reo St., Suite 105, Tampa, FL 33609. For more information, call (813) 287-2600.

Times staff writer Robbyn Mitchell contributed to this report.

Son of Bucs kicker Bryant dies 09/24/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, October 1, 2008 9:45am]
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