Former Houston LB/DL killed serving in Afghanistan

Former Houston LB/DL killed serving in Afghanistan

Published Aug. 13, 2014 8:39 p.m. ET

Sergeant 1st Class and former Houston Cougars football player Sam Hairston was killed while serving in the US Army in Afghanistan on Tuesday, when “his unit was engaged by enemy small-arms fire,” the US Department of Defense states. He was 35.

"We are deeply saddened by the loss of Sam Hairston and express our greatest condolences to his wife, Tawana, son, Hayden, extended family and wide circle of friends,” vice president of intercollegiate athletics Mack Rhoades said on the school’s website. “Sam was not only a valuable member of the Houston family but an American hero. He is an inspiration to all of us and will always be remembered as a great Cougar. Our thoughts and prayers are with Sam's family and friends.”

Before joining the Army in 2003, Hairston played for the Cougars as a linebacker and defensive lineman for four season, beginning in 1997. He recorded 55 tackles, four sacks, one interception and a fumble recovery ove 42 games for Houston, the school states.

Hairston, who hailed from Shalimar, Fla., and went to Choctawhatchee High School, was a decorated member of the military having earned Purple Heart, Bronze Star, Army Commendation and Meritorious Service medals, among others, according to the Army Times.