According to a statement from the Gwinnett County police department, officers were called to Dronett's home near Atlanta on Wednesday morning in response to a possible suicide. Police spokesman Illana Spellman confirmed Dronett's body was found at the residence.
The medical examiner's office was examining the body to determine the cause of death.
"As a coach, your players are your extended family, and anytime you lose someone it is like losing a loved one," said David McWilliams, who coached Dronett at Texas and is now director of the Longhorn Letter Winners Association. "I will always remember Shane's wry smile, his laughter, and the fact that he seemed so full of life. He was a great player, and was one of those rare guys who even liked practice.
"It is a shock and a tragedy to lose someone so young."
As Atlanta's coach, Reeves brought Dronett to the Falcons in 1996 and said Wednesday the 6-foot-6, 300-pound defensive tackle was a key player when the Falcons made a run to Super Bowl before losing 34-19 to Denver in Miami.
"He was an integral part of our football team," Reeves said. "He was really a good player. He gave us a lot of depth there. He was a happy go lucky guy. He was fun to be around, was always smiling and was the type of player you look for on a football team."
Dronett, from Orange, Texas, is survived by his wife, Chris, and two daughters.
"My prayers go out for Chris and her two daughters," Reeves said. "You hate to lose anybody at any time but when your kids are high school age or younger it makes it tough, and it's tough for Chris."
Dronett had 48 tackles and 6 1/2 sacks in 1998 and again made 16 starts and recorded 6 1/2 sacks in 1999.
Dronett made 86 starts and had 44 sacks in 139 career games. He had 38 tackles and 5 1/2 sacks in 15 games in 2001, his last season as an active player. He remained on the team's roster before he was released following the 2002 season.
"The entire Atlanta Falcons family is saddened by the news of Shane Dronett's passing," owner Arthur Blank said. "Our deepest condolences are with his family during this difficult time."
Reeves said he most recently saw Dronett at a Falcons reunion this season. "He was there and looked great," Reeves said.
Reeves said he also recently tried to assist Dronett in a business venture.
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