Early this morning, Luke Raphael Laufenberg, the younger son of Babe and Joan Laufenberg and brother of Joe Willie Laufenberg, succumbed to cancer after a nearly two-year, hard-fought battle.
“We lost a son, a brother, a friend, and a warrior,” Babe Laufenberg said on Twitter. “We have never seen a person battle like Luke, but he lost his fight with cancer. He was truly inspirational. The hole in our hearts will never be filled. You are my hero. RIP my sweet Luke. See you on the other side.”
Luke, 21, was diagnosed with Burkitt’s lymphoma on Dec. 26, 2017.
He learned of his condition just weeks after the conclusion of the Mesa Community College football season, where he played tight end. Luke starred at wide receiver for Liberty Christian High School in Argyle, Texas, and spent the 2016 season as a redshirt tight end at Texas A&M.
Typical of his spirit, Luke fought his disease with extraordinary determination and was declared cancer-free on May 3, 2018.
In January 2019, after a year away from school, UTEP head football coach Dana Dimel awarded Luke a scholarship, and he was expected to start at tight end for the Miners this fall.
Luke’s cancer returned on April 5.
With limited treatment options, he continued to fight bravely. On July 12, he was informed that his condition was terminal and that he had just a few weeks left. He handled the news with a strength of character and sweet demeanor that will always inspire his family, friends, coaches, doctors, and the treatment staff at Children’s Medical Center Dallas.
“Luke touched my heart and soul forever,” Dimel said. “His spirit and fight are a reminder to me of what it means to play and coach the game of football. As long as I am coaching, I will relay all the lessons that Luke taught me to the individual lives I will affect. He is forever a MINER!”
Funeral arrangements are pending.