Brace died at his home in Springfield on Saturday, his cousin, Shaunta Brace, told the Associated Press. His cause of death wasn't immediately revealed, but Springfield Police Captain Robert Strzempek told MassLive.com that it was not suspicious.
"We were deeply saddened to hear the news this morning of Ron Brace's death. Seven years ago tomorrow (4/25/09), we drafted Ron after his standout career at Boston College," the team said in a statement. "During his Patriots career, the Springfield native was always eager to volunteer and give back in our communities, especially when those community initiatives were held in Western Mass."
The statement continued, "It is difficult to believe that someone so young and in the prime of his life is no longer with us. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Ron's family, friends and the many former teammates who will mourn Ron's passing."
Brace played football for Boston College before being drafted by the New England Patriots in the second round in 2009.
The NFL community came out on social media to pay tribute to Brace, with athletes like Baltimore Ravens tight end Benjamin Watson tweeting, "Saddened to hear of the death of former teammate Ron Brace. Prayers with his family, BC and the Patriot Organization."
Saddened to hear of the death of former teammate Ron Brace. Prayers with his family, BC and the Patriot Organization— Benjamin Watson (@BenjaminSWatson) April 24, 2016
Saddened to hear about the passing of friend and former teammate Ron Brace. His smile was contagious. Thoughts and prayers to his family.— Matt Ryan (@M_Ryan02) April 24, 2016
RIP Ron Brace. One of the nicest people I came across in my life. Always laughed at my terrible jokes. Thanks for all the great times Ron.— Zoltan Mesko (@ZoltanMesko) April 24, 2016
Brace played on the Massachusetts-based team until 2012, when he was sidelined by an injury. He signed with the Washington Redskins in 2013, but – according to ESPN – didn't play during the regular season.