Former Memphis linebacker Danton Barto dies at 50 from COVID-19 complications


MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Former University of Memphis linebacker Danton Barto died Sunday after complications from COVID-19. Barto was 50 years old.

Barto was admitted to the hospital earlier this month after contracting the virus. His wife said he was unvaccinated.

Barto played four seasons for the Tigers, from 1990-93. He is the university’s all-time leader in tackles with 473. Barto led the Tigers in tackles his last three seasons. He was named the team MVP in 1991 and 1993.

He was inducted into the University of Memphis athletic Hall of Fame in 2007.

After graduating from the U of M, Barto played five years in the AFL and CFL. Barto also spent time as the coach of the Arena Football team, Memphis Xplorers from 2002-06. He was named Coach of the Year in 2005.

Barto worked as a head coach in the AFL in 2007 with the Las Vegas Gladiators and the Kansas City Command in 2011-12. He also scouted for the Los Angeles Rams.

“He was a Memphis Tiger legend, on and off the field. He was beloved by so many,” Coach Ryan Silverfield said in a statement. “Our thoughts and prayers from our entire community are with his family and his loved ones as we remember him today. Obviously, he was a fantastic football player, but those who had the opportunity to get to know Danton, knew that he was an incredible human being.”

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