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Former Atlanta United defender Anton Walkes passes away after boating accident

The former Atlanta United defender has tragically passed away at the age of 25.

SOCCER: JUL 17 MLS - New England Revolution at Atlanta United FC Photo by Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Former Atlanta United and Charlotte FC defender Anton Walkes tragically passed away Thursday morning at the age of 25 due to injuries sustained in a boating crash in the waters off Miami on Wednesday.

Charlotte FC announced his passing and both Charlotte and Atlanta United released statements.

The Miami Herald reported the crash that occurred yesterday. Dirty South Soccer understands that Walkes was on a jet ski and collided with a larger vessel. The report states that Walkes was found unconscious and received CPR on the scene from Miami Fire Rescue.

It’s a tragic loss for the entire MLS community. Fans, players and coaches alike had nothing but the best of interactions with Walkes, who unsurprisingly found himself to be a fan favorite in Atlanta. That’s thanks in part to the role he played during the teams inaugural campaign under Tata Martino in 2017 where while on loan he won the right back spot and played in 20 games, making 17 starts that season.

Atlanta was impressed enough to bring him back in 2020 on a permanent transfer where he became a regular in the starting XI under multiple head coaches. He started 15 of 23 league games in 2020 under Frank de Boer and Stephen Glass, followed by 32 of 34 matches the following season under Gabriel Heinze and Gonzalo Pineda. He’s one of the players to have worn the captain’s armband in Atlanta United’s history.

Some of his former Atlanta United clubs, teammates and colleagues have shared their feelings since learning of the tragic news:

If anyone has personal stories about interacting or watching Anton, we’d all love to hear them. Rest in peace Anton Walkes.