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News of his suicide touched players across the NFL.

Kenny was such a good guy, such a fun guy to be around,” said Minnesota Vikings receiver Sidney Rice, a college teammate of McKinley. “He was a happy guy who had a great sense of humor and he’s going to be missed by so many people. He was funny and always kept people around him upbeat. I’m shocked he’s gone.”

McKinley played in eight games as a rookie in 2009 with seven kick returns for 158 yards before going on injured reserve with a left knee injury on Dec. 29. He recovered and participated in the team’s offseason workouts but got hurt again during the first week of training camp and was placed on IR on Aug. 5.

McDaniels said McKinley took the news well when he went on IR again, ending his season.

“It was really a decision that we made together. He knew the extent of his injury. It was really a choice he was very involved in,” McDaniels said. “There’s situations where you could try to do something else, fight through it and all that, or you could try to have the operation and then go ahead and be ready to go for the next year. That’s what we chose together. He was very much a part of that decision. He was working hard with his rehab.”

McKinley’s agent, Andrew Bondarowicz, said family and friends are at a loss to explain the death of a young man “who had such a love for life.” He said everyone has their theories, whether it was injuries, finances or something else.

“There’s nothing that we can point to and say, you know what, that’s the sign that something was wrong or that he was struggling,” Bondarowicz said. “At the end of the day, he was still an NFL player. Even the theories of financial difficulties, it was not like he was cut from the roster. You still get paid on injured reserve.”

McKinley signed a four-year deal worth just under $2 million last year after the Broncos selected him in the fifth round of the draft. The deal included a $200,000 signing bonus and a $310,000 rookie salary. He was making $395,000 this season even though he was hurt.

Travis Shelton, a rookie receiver with McKinley in Denver before being waived, said he had spoken by phone with his friend earlier this month and McKinley was looking on the bright side of being out for the season.

“He was telling me he got time to spend with his son,” Shelton said.


AP Sports Writers Pete Iacobelli and Pat Graham and Associated Press Writers Catherine Tsai and P. Solomon Banda contributed to this story.