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Former USC, Chargers center Max Tuerk dies at 26

June 22 (UPI) -- Former University of Southern California and Los Angeles Chargers center Max Tuerk has died. He was 26.

Tuerk's family said he died while hiking with his parents on a trail Saturday at Cleveland National Forest in Santa Ysabel, Calif. His cause of death was not disclosed.

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"Max loved his teammates, coaches and schools," the Tuerk family said. "Max was a loving son and older brother and his passing leaves a giant hole in our hearts. His strength and work ethic is an inspiration to many."

Tuerk was a freshman All-American in 2012 at USC. He was an All-Pac-12 selection in 2014 before he missed his senior season due to an ACL injury.

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The Chargers selected Tuerk in the third round of the 2016 NFL Draft. He missed the entire season as a healthy scratch. He was suspended for the first four games of the 2017 season for violating the NFL's performance-enhancing substance policy before he was released by the Chargers.

Tuerk appeared in one game for the Arizona Cardinals in 2017 but was released the next off-season.

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"Heartbroken by the loss of Max Tuerk," USC coach Clay Helton tweeted. "Incredible person, teammate, and Trojan. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family."

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The Chargers, the Cardinals, former USC coach Lane Kiffin and several of Tuerk's former teammates also offered their Sunday condolences on social media.

"This news is hard to process, and all I can think of is how unbelievably sad I am -- and all of us at the Chargers are -- upon learning of Max's passing," Chargers general manager Tom Telesco said. "I'm heartbroken for his parents and family.

"Max had a tremendous passion for football and a quiet toughness that those who didn't know him may have underestimated, but all of us who knew him appreciated. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Max's family during this extremely difficult time."

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