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HE WAS A record-setting college quarterback—throwing for 10,354 yards and 78 touchdowns for Kentucky from 2000 to '03—and then Eli Manning's backup when the Giants won Super Bowl XLII over the Patriots. He went on to be an indoor football star, even serving as commissioner of the short-lived Ultimate Indoor Football League for a season. But Jared Lorenzen, who died on July 3 at age 38 of an infection, complicated by heart and kidney issues, was perhaps best known for his lifelong struggle with his weight, which he chronicled publicly in his postplaying days.

Born 13 pounds and three ounces in Covington, Ky., Lorenzen was always extra large. As a 240-pounder, he outweighed his offensive linemen in high school, then tortured himself to drop 40 pounds so his college coach would let him play. Nicknamed Hefty Lefty and Pillsbury Throwboy, Lorenzen avoided scales for years after his NFL career ended when he was released by the Colts before the start of the 2008 season. He was well over 300 pounds when he played his last football game—in December '13 with the Northern Kentucky River Monsters of the Continental Indoor Football League—breaking his tibia while getting tackled. In subsequent years his weight continued to climb, topping out at 560 pounds.

In 2016 he committed to turning his life around. He launched The Jared Lorenzen Project, a docuseries on Facebook chronicling his attempt to lose weight, with hopes he might inspire others who struggled like him. A year later, Lorenzen had dropped more than 80 pounds.