Former Cincinnati great Woods dies

Posted by ESPN.com's Brian Bennett

Mike Woods, Cincinnati's first consensus football All-American, has died in Cleveland at the age of 54.

Woods played for the Bearcats from 1975-77 and was voted an All-American in 1977. He was named the team's MVP as a junior and paced the Bearcats with 114 tackles as a senior. As a co-captain his senior year, he helped lead the Cincinnati defense to a No. 11 national ranking in the country. He came to Cincinnati in 1975 as a transfer from the University of Tampa.

Woods was in the inaugural class of players enshrined in the Bearcats' Ring of Honor at Nippert Stadium in 2006.

He was a second-round pick by the Baltimore Colts and played three seasons in the NFL, starting 36 games. But his pro career was cut short in 1982 when he was paralyzed in a random shooting in Cleveland. He spent the next 27 years as a quadriplegic.

The Baltimore Sun's Ken Murray has more on Woods' life.

"After the shooting, Woods completed his degree through the University of Cincinnati, helped his wife, Milyn, raise four children, watched his eldest son, Shaun, go to Bowie State on a football scholarship and became a symbol of inspiration for those who knew him.

Until Woods walked into the line of fire in a house on the bad side of Cleveland on the morning of May 21, 1982, he was known more for his prodigious athletic talent and a nagging tendency toward injury than for his ability to lead men.

Attempting to retrieve his father from an all-night poker game, Woods, then 27, was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. A robbery gone bad and a bullet in the neck left him fighting for his life. Within a week, the 17-year-old shooter was arrested.

For the next 27 years, Woods dealt with the grim reality of paralysis until he died at 54. That he did so without bitterness was a testament to his character."