Photo Credit: Matt Slocum/AP

Former Syracuse and NBA big man Fab Melo died in his home country of Brazil yesterday at the age of 26.

Melo reportedly went to bed at his home in Juiz de Fora on Friday night and was found dead by his mother on Saturday morning. No information has yet been released on cause of death. 

“We don’t know the cause yet. It’s so hard right now, so hard to believe. It’s a sad, sad day. He was a really good kid, and it’s not fair that he will be defined by one thing: a 10-page paper,” Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim told ESPN, referring to the academic ineligibility that surfaced during Melo’s last season at the school. “He worked his tail off to become a really good player and was a nice kid.”

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Melo spent two years playing for Syracuse and was named Big East Defensive Player of the Year before being drafted by Boston in the first round of the 2012 draft. After a year in the Celtics’ organization, split between the D-League and the NBA, he was traded to the Grizzlies and waived shortly thereafter. He left American professional basketball for good in 2014, returning to his native Brazil to play there instead. He spent the end of last season playing for Brasilia in the Liga Sudamericana.