George Boo Williams

Former Notre Dame defensive tackle George “Boo” Williams died Tuesday at age 50 after a long battle with an illness.

A candlelight vigil and balloon release will be held Monday at the high school football field in Willingboro, N.J., where George “Boo” Williams long ago caught the interest of the Notre Dame coaching staff.

Monday would have been Williams’ 51st birthday. His battle with hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis (HLH), and the many complications that came along with it, came to an end Tuesday with his passing.

Former Irish football teammates, including Chris Zorich and Bryan Flannery, shared on social media their memories of the ND defensive tackle, who started as a sophomore alongside Zorich on ND’s 1988 national championship team.

The Boyd Funeral Home in Camden, N.J., which is handling the arrangements, confirmed Williams’ death. But a spokesperson for the funeral home said there wouldn’t likely be an obituary published, since the family wanted to keep the funeral service a private affair.

HLH attacks the body’s immune system. Certain white blood cells — histiocytes and lymphocytes — attack other blood cells. These abnormal blood cells collect in the spleen and liver, causing these organs to enlarge.

According to a GoFundMe page, that had raised more than $16,000 in less than three weeks to offset Williams’ medical bills, Williams was also battling pancreatitis, as well as liver and kidney failure.

Williams came to Notre Dame in 1987. After his breakout season in 1988, Williams missed the 1989 season because of academic issues. He also missed his final season of eligibility, in 1991, because of a university-imposed disciplinary action.

He was a sixth-round NFL Draft choice of the Cleveland Browns in 1992.

The vigil Monday to celebrate Williams’ life at Kennedy Center Field is set for 5 p.m. EST.

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