Glendale family remembers football player who unexpectedly passed away in his sleep

Cesar Vazquez had already started summer practices with Peoria Centennial when he unexpectedly passed away in his sleep earlier this week.
Published: Aug. 6, 2022 at 9:37 PM MST
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GLENDALE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -- A West Valley football community is reeling after losing one of their own just days before the start of the school year. Cesar Vazquez had already started summer practices with Peoria Centennial. Vazquez’s family had moved from Peoria to Glendale during his high school career, so he stayed at Centennial even though they now live in Glendale. However, he unexpectedly passed away in his sleep earlier this week.

At 6′3, 270 pounds, there was a lot of Cesar Vazquez to love. But Vazquez’s mother, Brenda Gil, says for as big of a presence he had on the football field, Cesar had an even bigger heart. “He was really charismatic and everybody loved him!” Gil said. “He was very happy all the time. He would always cooperate with whatever you did. And he listened to everything.”

Including the feedback from coaches that Vazquez could have a future in football. “That was his dream,” Gil said. “To play in college.”

And after that? Maybe the NFL. But earlier this week, when Vazquez went to bed, he never woke up. “We started moving him, and shaking him. We saw he was purple so we called the ambulance,” Gil said. “And when they came they said he was dead, and that they couldn’t do anything else.”

Vazquez had no history of any serious health issues. He didn’t do drugs. As a result, his death has left his family with plenty of questions. “We just have no clue what happened.” Gil said.

But while the Vazquez family waits for answers, they’ve been comforted by the response from both Vazquez’s second family at Peoria Centennial and strangers who didn’t even know him. “Seeing all the love that so many people had for him, it’s just made me feel even more proud,” Gil said.

The pain is still fresh for Gil and the rest of the family. What’s next? They’re not sure. But Gil knows speaking about Vazquez’s death, no matter how difficult it may be, is necessary. “I told him, I’m going to do this for you,” Gil said. “You’re going to give me the strength to do this interview because I knew he wanted to be famous. That’s what he said. I’m going to be famous. So this is for him.”

A memorial service is planned for Vazquez next Saturday at 1 p.m. at West Resthaven Funeral Home (6450 W. Northern Avenue) in Glendale. Anyone is welcome to attend. A GoFundMe has also been created to help the Vazquez family with the funeral and other expenses. Here is a link to donate.