ARLINGTON, Texas — Editor's note: The video above is from a report on Sept. 14, 2021.
A beloved soccer coach at Sam Houston High School in Arlington has died following a battle with COVID-19 in an intensive care unit, his wife announced Sunday.
Lena Rodriguez said on Facebook that her husband, Joey Rodriguez, died at 5:45 p.m. Sunday. He was 43 years old.
"My love has entered eternity where he can now be the father to our three babies in heaven," Lena wrote.
Arlington ISD Superintendent Marcelo Cavazos released a statement Monday on Joey's death.
"The Arlington ISD collectively grieves the loss of Coach Joey Rodriguez... He coached soccer, and he did so much more. He was a father figure to many students as he inspired them to succeed. He was a mentor and friend to students and staff," Cavazos said.
Joey was a father of three kids under the age of 10. He was vaccinated but had a compromised immune system.
Lena spoke to WFAA on Sept. 14 about her husband's battle and how he took precautions.
“Joey was able to receive the vaccine when Arlington ISD provided it for all of their teachers, which we were really grateful for,” Lena said. “Especially for him, having a compromised immune system, it was very important for him.”
“He did all the right things, he social distanced, he masked, but we’re both public school teachers, and how we’re able to protect ourselves right now is limited. And so, it almost felt like it was a matter of time," she added.
Brandon Voss, the head coach at Keller Central, started an online fundraiser to help Joey's family. The fundraiser was updated on Sunday to say funds would now go towards funeral expenses, as well.
Lena addressed the Sam Houston soccer team on Sept. 14 to tell them how proud Joey was of them while he was in the hospital.
“I know he is incredibly proud of every single one of y’all,” Lena said. “I know that he would want me to tell you to keep being resilient, to keep working hard, that this season, if you needed any motivation to do well, that he is your motivation.”