The bond you build as high school football teammates will last for the rest of your life and you can ask anyone who played as to why.

Together they remain a band of brothers.

New Orleans Saints second year Wide-Receiver Keith Kirkwood, who caught passes a few years ago as a member of the Neptune High School Scarlet Fliers, played with Braeden Bradforth who passed away in the summer of 2018 from a heat stroke following football practice at Garden City Community College in Kansas.

The bond between brothers continues today as Kirkwood catches passes from future NFL Hall of Famer Quarterback Drew Brees.

On social media Kirkwood, who is on Injured Reserve due to a hamstring injury he suffered in Week 2 and appears unlikely to return this season, according to NOLA.com, said he will honor Bradforth on his football cleats.


View this post on Instagram

My brother Braeden Bradforth went through a very tragic situation that could have been prevented. On his first day of football practice, Braeden collapsed and died from a heat stroke. For this year’s My Cause My Cleats, I decided to bring awareness to Braeden’s story. Hydration is key for every single athlete, especially when temperatures exceed the limit of athletes being on a field, and authorities take matters into there on hands by going against these guidelines. It’s truly imperative that athletes receive the proper rest and hydration no matter how heavy the work load they endure. Unfortunately, I will not be able to wear these cleats on game day this Sunday, but I’m so thankful to have this platform to be able to spread this awareness. Braeden’s life will continue to live on as I and many others continue to fight so that an incident like this will never occur again. #LongLiveBraedenBradforth

A post shared by keith_kirkwood (@keith_kirkwood) on

Braeden Bradforth's death caught national attention thanks to his mother Joanne Atkins-Ingram and Jersey Shore Congressman Chris Smith who represents constituents of Monmouth, Mercer and Ocean Counties in Washington.

The search for answers was a long one with the truth behind the matter methodically unfolding over time.

Ultimately an independent investigation pinned the death last year on a "striking lack of leadership" at the college.

A probe commissioned by the college's Board of Trustees in May concluded that Bradforth's death could have been prevented if the school had bothered to properly assess the physical condition of student athletes and if the school had developed an emergency response plan for athletes who suffer heat illness.

Reporting on the Braeden Bradforth investigation by Sergio Bichao was used in this article.

Dan Alexander contributed to this report.

More from the Shore Sports Network:

Enter your number to get our free mobile app