Jeff Sherer, a former high school football star whose fight against amyotrophic lateral sclerosis raised awareness and inspired others, has died. He was 37.
Sherer, a resident of Lake Forest, died Thursday afternoon at Saddleback Memorial Hospital due to complications from ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
Sherer, a massive offensive tackle who helped lead Servite High School in Anaheim to a Southern Section title in 1982, was known by his friends as the “Gentle Giant.”
Steve Beuerlein, a 16-year NFL veteran, was the quarterback on that ’82 championship team. “He took care of my right side for four years,” said Beuerlein, who played last year for the Denver Broncos.
Beuerlein returned the favor in the summer of 2000 by speaking before a U.S. Senate subcommittee hearing on Lou Gehrig’s disease.
Sherer, who played football at Long Beach State, was an electrician before being diagnosed with the disease six years ago. Within a few years, he had lost the ability to speak and had lost nearly 100 pounds from his 6-foot-2, 300-pound frame.
“He fought this longer, in this condition, than most people ever dream about,” said Beuerlein, who visited Sherer in the hospital Monday. “When you are stricken with something like ALS, you can either sit around and feel sorry for yourself and bring everybody down, or you can deal with it in a way that lifts everybody up. That’s what Jeff did.”
A group of 15 ex-teammates from Servite helped with medical costs, meals, housework and the remodeling of the Sherer’s two-story home to accommodate Jeff’s disability.
In addition to his wife of nine years, Marya, Sherer is survived by sons Jeffrey Jr., 4, and Anthony, 3; daughter Madison, 6; sisters Peggy Sherer of Laguna Beach, Nancy Bottum of Redding, Lori Weddle of Des Moines, Wash.; and brother Joe of Ft. Wayne, Ind.
Funeral services will be at 3 p.m. March 1 at Servite High. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to the Sherer Courage ALS Foundation, 445 S. Figueroa St., Suite 3400, Los Angeles, 90071-1638.