Urlacher rushes home after mother's death

September 14, 2011 (CHICAGO)

Urlacher has left the team to be with his family at this difficult time. His mother passed away on Monday night.

It's not yet clear whether Urlacher will rejoin the team in time for Sunday's game in New Orleans. He was not present at Bears practice Wednesday at Halas Hall in Lake Forest.

Urlacher, 33, is the Bears' emotional leader, and there is no shortage of emotional support for him.

Urlacher was named NFC Defensive Player of the Week on Wednesday for his incredible performance this past Sunday against Atlanta.

Few would fault Urlacher for sitting out Sunday's game.

Lavoyda Lenard was only 51 years old. She once appeared in a soup commercial with her son. There has been no official word on the cause of death.

Urlacher released the following statement Wednesday:

"My mother, Lavoyda, unexpectedly passed away Monday at her home in Texas. 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."

ABC7 asked Lovie Smith how the Bears head coach might be able to help Urlacher through this tough time.

"Brian, I'm lucky to be his coach, but our relationship goes a lot farther than that," Smith said. "I lost my mother earlier this year. One of the first guys on the telephone with me was Brian. Our players of course are concerned, and we're giving him of course family time right now. But we're just gonna be there to support him anyway we can and just be there to help through a tough time. Unless you've been through, there's no way to make it any better than it is at the time, but he'll get through it."

Smith and the Bears players are still optimistic Urlacher will return for Sunday.

"Sometimes during difficult times like this," said Smith, "it's good to do something that you love, to be around people who care for you and support you."

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