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Raiders defensive back Eric Turner dead at 31

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. (AP) -- Two weeks after claiming he was not gravely ill, Eric Turner of the Oakland Raiders has died,
apparently of cancer. He was 31.

Turner, a defensive back who played nine seasons in the NFL, died Sunday afternoon at Los Robles Hospital, according to a nursing supervisor.

The cause of death appeared to be complications of abdominal cancer, according to Craig Stevens, medical examiner at the Ventura County Coroner's office.

On May 15, the former UCLA player issued a statement through his agents stating the reports of his illness were unfounded.

"I realize people are concerned, but I have chosen to keep this issue within my family," Turner said in the statement. "Contrary
to published reports I have not lost 70 pounds and am not gravely ill. ... I will make another statement when my family and I deem it

The Raiders had refused to comment on the free safety, who did not attend the team's minicamp in late April for personal reasons.

The Los Angeles Daily News first reported the story, saying in early May the former Pro Bowl player has a serious stomach illness.

The newspaper quoted an unidentified Raiders official as saying, "It's a terrible, terrible situation ... people should really be
concerned for this kid."

"It started out as an ulcer and it's developed into something worse," the Raiders official told the Daily News.

Several other San Francisco Bay area newspapers also reported that Turner was ill. The San Jose Mercury News had reported Turner was gravely ill with intestinal cancer. One source quoted by the newspaper said Turner was resting at his home near Los Angeles and had lost 70 pounds from his playing weight of 215.

Turner was the second overall pick in the 1991 NFL draft by the Cleveland Browns. He was selected to the Pro Bowl in 1994 after tying for the league lead with nine interceptions, including one he returned 93 yards for a touchdown.

Turner signed with the Raiders as a free agent before the 1997 season. He led the team in tackles his first year with 111, but was limited to just six games in 1998 because of a foot injury and missed the final six games of last season with a calf injury.

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