San Francisco 49ers backup quarterback C.J. Beathard took a moment to commemorate his younger brother Clayton with a heartfelt tribute in the caption of a group of family photos he posted to Instagram a couple days after Christmas.
“Clay has the biggest heart of anyone that I have ever known,” Beathard wrote. “Anyone that knows him knows this, he would do absolutely anything for the people he loves. He is the most loyal guy that I have ever known in my life and has always been so dang proud of my family and I. It sounds so cliche but clay is the best example of a dude that lights up every room he walks into, whether it’s with his loud contagious laugh or just the smile on his face.”
A standout athlete who started under center for the Long Island University Sharks in Brookville, Clayton’s life was cut short late last month when he and his friend Paul Trapeni III were stabbed to death outside a bar in Nashville, TN. He was 22 years old.
According to a statement released by police, the two were involved in an altercation with a man who made unwanted advances toward a woman they were friends with when the situation turned violent. A third victim, A.J. Betherum, suffered injuries to his arm and eye in the incident.
All three men were alumni of Battle Ground Academy in Franklin, TN. The school community held a candlelight vigil in honor of Beathard and Trapeni on Dec. 26 outside the courthouse in Franklin. Mourners packed the space in front of the building to honor their memory with tears and songs.
Beathard is a native of Thompson Station, TN, who transferred to LIU as a junior after two years at Iowa Western Community College. He appeared in seven games for the Sharks under center last fall before an injury ended his season early.
Beathard’s family has a long and storied connection to football. In addition to his brother, Clayton’s grandfather Bobby Beathard was a longtime executive in the National Football League (NFL). The elder Beathard worked as a scout, and later director of personnel for the Miami Dolphins before spending 22 years as general manager of the Washington Redskins and later the then-San Diego Chargers. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2018 for his work as an executive. His great uncle Pete also spent several years as in the NFL as a quarterback.
Friends and family commemorated Clayton as a kind-hearted young man of devout Christian faith. With that faith looming large, his older brother remarked that he feels Clayton has passed on rather than passed away.
“I say all of this in the present tense because Clay still is,” C.J. Beathard wrote. “He didn’t ‘used to be’ this or that, he still ‘is’. He just lives in a different place. I just know Clay is looking at us grieving down here right now saying ‘stay strong, ‘I’m doing great up here’ and ‘I will see you soon.’”
C.J. Beathard made his return to the 49ers on Friday, Jan. 3. San Francisco is scheduled to play the Minnesota Vikings in the divisional round of the NFL playoffs on Saturday, Jan. 11.