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Bears’ Brian Urlacher takes leave after mom’s sudden death

Chicago Bears' linebacker Brian Urlacher his mother Lavoydare pictured here 2003 promotihelp fight hunger. | AP

Chicago Bears' linebacker Brian Urlacher and his mother, Lavoyda, are pictured here in a 2003 promotion to help fight hunger. | AP

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Updated: November 10, 2011 9:48AM

Bears middle linebacker Brian Urlacher has left the team after finding out about the unexpected death of his 51-year-old mother, Lavoyda Lenard.

“My mother, Lavoyda, unexpectedly passed away Monday at her home in Texas,” Urlacher said in a statement. “My first priority right now is to be with my family as we mourn her loss and make the arrangements to lay her to rest. This is a very difficult and emotional time for us and I sincerely ask that you respect our privacy. Thank you.”

Urlacher’s playing status this week is uncertain.

He is coming off a brilliant performance in the season opener against the Atlanta Falcons, when he made a key diving interception late in the first quarter and recovered a fumble and returned it for a touchdown. He also led the Bears with 10 tackles. His play earned him the NFC’s defensive player of the week award, the sixth in his career.

Players discussed Urlacher’s situation Wednesday without disclosing details.

Quarterback Jay Cutler called Urlacher the “heart and soul” of the team and says he is irreplaceable. Cutler also tweeted, “Our thoughts and prayers going out to Brian and his family.”

Lavoyda had three children with Brad Urlacher—Brian, Casey and Sheri—and lived in Washington. She divorced at age 25 and moved the children to Lovington, N.M. She re-married in 1991 to Troy Lenard, who became Brian’s stepfather and helped raise the children.

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