A week after being diagnosed with Ewing's Sarcoma, Idaho football recruit Jace Malek made a dream come true and signed to play football with the university last February. The Vandals and head coach Paul Petrino honored Malek's scholarship despite the illness.
More than a year later, on Sunday, Malek passed after his battle with the illness. Malek had to have a leg amputated as part of his treatment but valiantly served on in a student assistant coaching capacity for Idaho this past season.
"I am thankful Jace Malek was part of our team," Idaho head football coach Paul Petrino said in a statement. "I know everyone feels the same. Jace made me a better father, better coach and a better person. I am grateful and honored that he was part of my life."
After Idaho's homecoming win against Louisiana-Monroe this past fall, Petrino awarded Malek with the game ball:
Jace Game Ball
Coach Petrino giving Jace Malek the game ball after the Vandals' homecoming win Saturday against Louisiana Monroe. Jace continues his battle with cancer, but remains an important part of this Idaho team. TackleCancer99 #GoVandalsPosted by Inside the Vandals on Tuesday, October 27, 2015
Sports Illustrated did a deeper dive on Malek's journey this past October.
Malek's late teammates remembered their fallen comrade over the weekend:
Rest easy my friend. We will all miss you dearly #MalekStrong— Matthew Linehan (@MattLinehan_10) February 28, 2016
If you didn't get to know or even meet Jace, man you really missed out. That man was and always will be an inspiration!— Colton (@ColtonThrasher) February 28, 2016
The school paid tribute as well: