Freddie Solomon, the former Miami Dolphins and 49ers wide receiver who became known as “Fabulous Freddie” and committed himself to community service for decades, died Monday. He was 59.The 49ers announced the passing of Solomon, who lived in Florida and had battled cancer over the past year. He played on the first of the franchise’s four Super Bowl championship teams in the 1980s during an 11-year NFL career.
The Dolphins selected Solomon in the second round of the 1975 draft out of the University of Tampa. He spent his first three NFL seasons with Miami and his final eight in San Francisco, finishing with 371 receptions for 5,846 yards and 48 touchdowns in 371 games.
“Freddie was very influential to me and my career, and taught me about work ethic and professionalism,” Hall of Fame wideout Jerry Rice said. “He inspired me to go out there every day and emulate him.”
During his stint in San Francisco, Solomon also ran for 329 yards and three TDs as an important member of late Hall of Fame coach Bill Walsh’s West Coast offense.
“There was no one who gave more on and off the field than Freddie,” Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Montana said. “The kindness he demonstrated was inspirational to all that knew him, and a joy to be around. The warmth of his smile will be forever imbedded in my mind and heart.”
After his football career ended, Solomon worked for two decades in community relations with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office in Florida, where he mentored youth and taught vital life lessons through football fundamentals.
“Besides his accomplishments as a player, Freddie truly cared about his community, whether it was here in South Florida or in the Tampa Bay area where he had his roots,” Dolphins vice president Nat Moore said in a statement. “He was a kind and generous person, as exemplified by all of his charitable and civic deeds. It’s a shame he passed away so young, and the Miami Dolphin organization extends its condolences to his family.”
Solomon was born on Jan. 11, 1953, in Sumter, S.C. He is survived by wife, Dee; mother, Bessie Ruth Solomon; brothers Richard, Oneal and Roger; and mother-in-law Mae Jeffers.
“It is with a heavy heart that we announce the passing of Freddie Solomon, a beloved family member, friend, community leader and coach,” the family said in a release. “We would like to thank all those who have supported him throughout his life. We appreciate all the love and prayers during this difficult time.”
Funeral services were scheduled for Friday at Saint Lawrence Church in Tampa, Fla.
AP Sports Writer Fred Goodall in Tampa, Fla., contributed to this report.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.