31-year-old former NFL player found dead in Indiana river

This is a 2011 photo of James Hardy of the Baltimore Ravens NFL football team. (AP Photo)
This is a 2011 photo of James Hardy of the Baltimore Ravens NFL football team. (AP Photo)

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — James Hardy, a historic Fort Wayne sports star and former NFL player, has been identified as the victim pulled from the Maumee River in east Fort Wayne on Wednesday. He was 31.

An autopsy conducted by the Allen County Coroner’s Office confirmed the identity on Thursday. The coroner’s office was not able to determine Hardy’s cause and manner of death.

NewsChannel 15 confirmed Hardy’s family reported him missing to police on May 30.

Police and fire rescue crews were called to the Maumee River at the Hosey Dam Wednesday on a report of a possible body in the water there. Michael Joyner, FWPD Public Information Officer, said an employee with the City’s water Filtration Plant conducting his regular rounds made the discovery as he walked along the catwalk and called police.

Hardy was a former multi-sport standout at Elmhurst High School and runner-up for Indiana’s Mr. Basketball. He ended his career as one of the most prolific scorers in Fort Wayne high school basketball history with only Deshaun Thomas and Bryson Scott having tallied more points.

He graduated in 2004 and then went on to play football and basketball at Indiana University. During his time at IU he quit basketball to focus his efforts on football. He owns IU receiving records for career receptions, yards and touchdowns.

Hardy was drafted by the Buffalo Bills in 2008 after entering the draft following his junior year. He also played for the Baltimore Ravens before being released in 2011.

While at Elmhurst, he was part of a football team that had the longest losing streak in state history. However the team snapped that streak in part due to Hardy’s tremendous talent.

TMZ reported in May of 2014 that Hardy was arrested after attacking three officers. A judge ruled that he was not mentally competent to stand trial in a case where he faced a felony charge for resisting arrest during the incident.

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