Chargers' Brenden Rice Was Traveling to His Best Friend’s Funeral When He Was Picked in NFL Draft

Rice was drafted No. 225 in the third round by the Los Angeles Chargers on April 27, two weeks after the death of his former teammate and best friend

<p>Los Angeles Chargers/Instagram; Brenden Rice/Instagram</p> Brenden Rice receives draft call from Chargers en route to his best friend

Los Angeles Chargers/Instagram; Brenden Rice/Instagram

Brenden Rice receives draft call from Chargers en route to his best friend's funeral
  • Former USC wide receiver Brenden Rice was traveling to his best friend's funeral when the Los Angeles Chargers called to tell him they drafted him

  • Rice's former teammate and best friend, Keith Miller III, passed away on April 11

  • Rice served as pallbearer and delivered a eulogy at Miller's funeral in Dallas, Texas

It was a bittersweet day for Brenden Rice when the Los Angeles Chargers drafted him into the NFL.

Rice, 22, the son of retired NFL great Jerry Rice, was selected in the seventh round at No. 225 overall by the Chargers on April 27, as he was traveling to Dallas, TX., for his best friend's funeral.

When the former USC wide receiver answered the call from the Chargers' general manager Joe Hortiz, he was waiting to board a flight for the service, where he served as the pallbearer and delivered an obituary speech in honor of Keith Miller III.

Miller, who was 23 when he passed away on April 11, played with Rice for the Colorado Buffaloes. Miller's death was confirmed by the Buffaloes the following day.

Rice's draft call with Hortiz from inside the airport terminal was filmed and shared on the Chargers' TikTok account.

When Rice answered the phone, he told his new general manager he was "struggling" with his emotions as he mourned his best friend.

<p>Brenden Rice/Instagram</p> Keith Miller III and Brenden Rice

Brenden Rice/Instagram

Keith Miller III and Brenden Rice

Related: Jerry Rice's Son Brenden Recreates His Dad's Iconic '90s Breathe Right Campaign: 'My Turn' (Exclusive)

Once Hortiz told Rice he was "on the clock right now," the young athlete became emotional and said, "Oh, thank God."

"This was like, one of my top teams, man," Rice continued on the phone call. "I love Jim Harbaugh," he added, referring to the Chargers' new head coach.

"I can't wait to come play for y'all," Rice added before Hortiz passed the phone to Harbaugh, 60, who was named head coach in January.

<p>Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images</p> Brenden Rice #2 of the USC Trojans runs the ball after a reception during the first half of a game against the UCLA Bruins

Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Brenden Rice #2 of the USC Trojans runs the ball after a reception during the first half of a game against the UCLA Bruins

Harbaugh told Rice, "As Tom Brady said, it doesn't matter if you're drafted in the first round, the sixth round, the seventh round, nobody can measure anybody's heart."

"It's going to be one hell of a story and I can't wait to do it with you and Justin Herbert," an emotional Rice told his new head coach.

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Harbaugh said he hopes the good news will "lift" Rice's "spirits" during the emotional time.

The Chargers' TikTok then cuts to Rice's family, who shed tears as they reacted to the signing.

Related: Jerry Rice’s Son Brenden Talks Comparison to His Father Ahead of NFL Draft: ‘The Standard Is Ridiculous’

Later that day, Rice wrote, "Long Live Keith Issac Miller III," adding, "This run I’m about to make is for you brother," in a post on X (formerly known as Twitter).

He also penned an emotional message on Instagram Stories reflecting on the whirlwind weeks after being drafted in the third round.

“Yesterday I began to drop 4 rounds from where I was supposed to go. Today I laid my brother to rest in Dallas. Trying to mourn but also waiting for a phone call," he wrote in a since-expired post, per SportsKeeda.

"I don’t know what happened to make me drop but I’m glad God gave me the ability to focus on him and I felt as though God as well as Keith brought me back to my Faith. Now begins the journey up the mountain once again. You will feel my pain,” he wrote.

Rice played two seasons at the University of Colorado Boulder before transferring to USC in 2022. The 6-foot-3, 210-lb. wide receiver racked up 12 touchdown catches and 791 yards receiving in his final year at USC.

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