Colt Brennan, Hawaii legend and former Washington QB, dies at 37

HONOLULU -- Colt Brennan, a star quarterback at the University of Hawaii who finished third in the 2007 Heisman Trophy balloting, died early Tuesday, his father said. He was 37.

Brennan, who has had public struggles with alcohol, died at a hospital in California, his father, Terry Brennan, told The Associated Press.

"He just spent one too many times on the dark side of life, and it caught up with him," Terry Brennan said of his son.

Brennan transferred to Hawaii after stints at Colorado and Saddleback College in California. A certain pro prospect, he bypassed the NFL draft in order to play his senior year for Hawaii coach June Jones.

Brennan led the Warriors to its finest season ever, going 12-0 in the regular season.

In 2008, Georgia ended Hawaii's hopes for an unblemished record, defeating the Warriors 41-10 in the Sugar Bowl.

He returned, in part, to pay back to a school and a coach that gave him a second chance, and he had no regrets.

"Hawaii has inspired me to do a lot of great things," he told The Associated Press in 2007.

Brennan's name prominently remains on Hawaii's all-time records, including accounting for a school record 131 touchdowns from 2005 to 2007.

"It's hard to put into words the impact that Colt Brennan had on Rainbow Warrior fans and the people of Hawai'i," the university's athletic department said in a statement. "He was a phenomenal player and provided us some of the greatest sports memories we'll ever have. But he was more than that. For all that he accomplished on the football field and the adulation he received for it, he always remained among the people. He never turned down an autograph, he never turned down a picture with someone. He inspired everyone, from our keiki to our kupuna. He had a Warrior mentality on the field but a true aloha spirit off of it.

"Today is any extremely tough day. Our thoughts and prayers are with the entire Brennan 'ohana and we mourn together with all those across Hawai'i and Rainbow Warrior nation who were touched by Colt."  

Brennan was drafted by Washington in the sixth round of the NFL draft in 2008, but he never played a regular season game in two seasons.

He was arrested in November at his Big Island home after banging on a housemate's door with a chair. When he entered the room, he fell on the roommate, causing both to fall to the floor. Brennan was arrested for disorderly conduct, the Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported.

It was the second time in fourth months he had been arrested, In August, he was taken into custody for trespassing at the Kona Seaside Hotel after allegedly causing a disturbance and refusing to leave.

In both incidents, police described Brennan as being heavily intoxicated, the Big Island newspaper reported. The charge was later dismissed.

In December 2019, he was arrested on Oahu for driving under the influence without insurance and leaving the scene of an accident.

Four years before that, he was charged with filing a false report that his vehicle was stolen, the newspaper reported. That case was also later dismissed.

He also pleaded no contest to DUI in 2013 for a traffic stop on Oahu a year earlier.

In 2010, he was a passenger in an SUV that was involved in a head-on crash. He suffered head, rib and collarbone injuries.

Brennan, who used a cane and wore a leg brace, went to California a few months ago for rehab for his injuries, including blood clots in his legs, his father said.

Brennan had been living at an addiction treatment center in Costa Mesa, California. His father said he took him to a hospital emergency room on Sunday because his son had been drinking. "I could tell he was not well and needed help," Terry Brennan said.

But the detox facility was full, so without his family realizing it, Colt Brennan was released. He was unconscious when he was taken back to the hospital, where he later died, his father said.

"They released him out on the street and either he made a call or he got Uber or something," Terry Brennan said. "And now this is what we're dealing with."

He was surrounded by family members when he died.

"His sisters made sure he had the Bob Marley music going by his side," Terry Brennan said of the reggae his son was fond of from his time in Hawaii. "They had a lei around his chest."

Hawaii was important to him. "He had all the respect in the world for Hawaii," his father said. "It was his home."

His family hopes that toxicology results and an autopsy -- including tests on his brain to determine if there was degeneration from repeated head trauma -- will give them answers.

Police are also investigating, his father said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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