Walter Jerry Payton was a running back for the Chicago Bears in the National Football League for 13 seasons. He was an American professional football player. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest football players of all time and is referred to as Sweetness.

Walter Payton’s cause of death: What happened to Walter Payton?

Payton married Connie Norwood in 1976. During his rookie year, he resided in a home on the north side of Arlington Heights, Illinois.

The couple had two children, Jarrett Payton (born 1980) and Brittney Payton (1985), and resided in South Barrington, Illinois.

Payton’s marriage of 18 years came to an abrupt end when he unexpectedly served Norwood divorce papers for joint custody; however, despite not living together for most of the remainder of Payton’s life, the divorce was never made official.

From left, Brittney Payton, Connie Payton-Strotter and Jarrett Payton
From left, Brittney Payton, Connie Payton-Strotter, and Jarrett Payton watch a video during a tribute to Walter Payton at halftime of the Chicago Bears’ 30-6 win over the Cleveland Browns at Soldier

According to Wikipedia in February 1999, Payton announced that he had a rare liver disease known as primary sclerosing cholangitis, which may have led to his cholangiocarcinoma (bile duct cancer).

He spent his final months as an advocate for organ transplants, appearing in many commercials to encourage others to donate organs, although by the time his first appeal was recorded, his illness was already too far advanced for transplantation to have been a viable option.

Walter Payton timeline: Legacy of Chicago Bears Hall of Famer
Walter Payton timeline: Legacy of Chicago Bears Hall of Famer (Chicago Tribune)

In April of that year, Payton made a final public appearance at a Chicago Cubs game with Mike Ditka, where he threw the game’s ceremonial first pitch. Author Don Yaeger worked with him during the last weeks of his life to create his autobiography, Never Die Easy.

On November 1, 1999, Payton died from the complications that arose from his illness. He was 46 years old. During the same week, the NFL held special ceremonies in each game to commemorate his career and legacy. In addition, the Chicago Bears wore exceptional #34 patches on their jerseys to honor Payton.



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