Chicago Bears star Tommie Harris lived a privileged life. $25 million in the bank, a loving wife and family. But his life changed in an instant.

This isn't a tale of an NFL star throwing his career away, but simply a tragic one where the cruelty of life ripped Harris' world apart.

Harris shared his personal story in a piece for The Players Tribune, detailing the agony of losing his wife and career.
The former star defensive tackle was a winner on the field going to the Super Bowl with the Chicago Bears and playing in a National Championship game in college.

But one day unexpectedly he received the news that his wife had stopped breathing. He needed to get to Oklahoma as soon as possible. Only thing was no commercial flights were available.

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As fate would have it, Harris had sat next to a businessman on a flight that morning who owned a private jet company. Just minutes after stepping off the plane, the card would prove valuable.

Destiny can be a scary thing, but the card led Harris to a speedy trip to his wife's bedside, only for fate to step in once again.

His wife Ashley had gone to Oklahoma for breast reduction surgery. A June wedding was planned for the College sweethearts and she wanted to be able to have her dream day.

Resting after her surgery, Ashley suddenly screamed in pain before she passed out and stopped breathing. Harris would sit by her bedside for three days, anxiously waiting for his wife to open her eyes, as she remained hooked up to a ventilator.

Harris regularly visited the hospital chapel and prayed that Ashley would survive, but it was there that he received the most horrible news.

A friend showed him a news article saying "Tommie Harris's wife had died of a brain aneurysm."

"My wife had passed away, and I found out over the internet," Harris writes.

"There had been a miscommunication, something lost in translation. The ventilator hadn't been keeping Ashley alive so that she would have a chance to pull through. It was there to harvest her organs.

"The brain aneurysm she had suffered had done too much damage. She was gone."

Harris had been married to Ashley for just 40 days. A large wedding in front of family and friends was planned for June, but the pair had exchanged vows in a small ceremony on New Year's Eve.

After sitting out an entire NFL season Harris got himself in the best shape of his life. He landed a tryout with Tampa Bay, but when he stepped off the plane he knew it wouldn't work.

"I had something like $25 million in the bank when I lost Ashley, and not one dollar had been able to help her. If I could have given every last cent to save my wife," Harris says.

"I had left my kids with my nanny and I knew they were in good hands, they still weren't my hands. And that's where I promised Ashley they would always be.

"So rather than go back to playing football - for money, for me, for whatever - I decided it was time to hang it up."

Harris may no longer have his NFL career or the love of his life by his side, but it isn't stopping him from living out the life he promised her.

So many professional athletes fail to transition to life after their on-field dreams fade, but Harris has shown the way forward, through the most traumatic of times.

He and his wife had wanted to develop a clothes boutique called Ashley's Closet. That is no longer possible, but Harris' journey continues.

Harris went back to college and completed his MBA, he hopes to learn more about business, through his success and his failures.

He hopes by sharing his story he can help others.

"Today, I'm not the man Ashley married. I'm a much better version of that man - one I wish she was here to see.

"But I know that she is here. Every day. Watching over me, Tyson and Tinsley. Shining the light that guides us as we do our best to keep her spirit alive and make her proud."