Former UK star Lorenzen ‘is still very sick’ … but ‘remains a fighter’

Fabled Kentucky quarterback Jared Lorenzen remains “very sick” but his treatment has been effective since his hospitalization at the end of last week, according to a statement released Tuesday by his family.

Roughly two years since making a public declaration that he intended to live a more healthy lifestyle and get his weight under control, Lorenzen was hospitalized Friday with multiple ailments that have him in intensive care.

In a statement released Tuesday to Matt Jones of KentuckySportsRadio.com, the family said Lorenzen’s “overnight was uneventful and that is a good thing. He remains on dialysis. He continues to maintain his ground. His cardiac and renal issues remain(,) however his treatment has been effective. Jared is still very sick … but developing some traction and remains a fighter. The entire family thanks you for your support and prayers.”

Jones, a friend who has often had Lorenzen serve as a guest host on his morning radio show, first broke the news of Lorenzen’s hospitalization. A note from Lorenzen’s family to Jones read: “On Friday, June 28, Jared began playing a bigger, more important game than he’s ever played before. Jared had not been feeling well for a few weeks and that finally caught up with him. He was brought to the hospital and fairly quickly was admitted to the ICU. Jared is battling an infection, kidney and heart issues. He is fighting with everything he has and his immediate family is by his side. We will attempt to update as often as possible, but please respect that some aspects of this journey are private matters.”

Lorenzen, 38, affectionately dubbed the “Hefty Lefty” during his playing days at Kentucky, launched “The Jared Lorenzen Project” in 2017 after tipping the scales at more than 500 pounds on his 6-foot, 4-inch frame. His @NowLetsGetFit Facebook page has more than 33,000 likes. The project included regular live updates and a documentary series of his battle by noted filmmaker Anthony Holt which was published on Facebook Live and Lorenzen’s Hefty Lefty YouTube channel. It also garnered the attention of ESPN’s “E:60” series.

From the outset, Lorenzen said losing a specific number of pounds would never be the goal, but his six-episode documentary revealed he suffered a number of setbacks over the course of the project that had him nearly at his original weight after reportedly dropping more than 100 pounds in 2018.

“I told you going into this, you’re going to see some good, some bad and some ugly. … This is a every day constant struggle for me,” Lorenzen posted in a Facebook Live video on April 12, nine days after the airing of the sixth episode of the documentary in which it was revealed he had at one point slipped back toward his original weight. “Luckily I’ve got great people in my corner that are going to help me fight this.”

Lorenzen, who played at Kentucky at the same weight or heavier than some of his offensive linemen, still holds UK career records for total yards, completions, and passing yards. He displayed a remarkable athleticism for his size, executing a number of passes or runs that seemed impossible, including throwing a school record 528 yards against Georgia in 2000. His record of 10,637 total yards eclipses the next-closest player by nearly 2,000.

As a high school athlete, Lorenzen played football, basketball and baseball and led Highlands to a 15-0 season and a Class 3A football title during his senior season in which he also garnered Mr. Football honors in 1998.

New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning, left, talked with teammate Jared Lorenzen during the second quarter of Super Bowl XLII at University of Phoenix Stadium on Feb. 3, 2008, in Glendale, Ariz. The Giants defeated the New England Patriots 17-14. Gene Puskar AP

Signing as an undrafted free agent in 2004, Lorenzen backed up Eli Manning for three seasons with New York Giants, including their 2008 Super Bowl victory. Attempts to get back into the game after getting cut by the Colts in 2008 finally ended when he broke his leg while playing for the Northern Kentucky River Monsters, a small arena league team, in 2013.

Since, he’s been a regular guest host on Kentucky Sports Radio and has a UK fan-centric T-shirt business ThrowboyTees.com. Lorenzen has an easy on-air persona, combining an every-man quality and genuine likability with expert insight.

This year, Lorenzen has been taking part in a Kroger Health and Wellness tour and made an appearance with it and his mobile gym in Lexington at the Richmond Road Kroger on May 19. At that event, Lorenzen said he was “down and out right now with a busted leg.” Throughout the project, Lorenzen has made public appearances often with his mobile gym and spoken to children about nutrition.

Jared Lorenzen signed a souvenir football for a young fan prior to the Central Kentucky Heart Walk at Keeneland in May 2018. Matt Goins

In the final episode of the Anthony Holt documentary, Jennifer Lorenzen Lee offered perspective on her brother’s struggles.

“I think Jared comes into weight loss very motivated in the beginning and at some point he falls off, “ Lorenzen Lee said. “I think he allows too much of his emotions to play in his weight loss … I think he allows his mind to play with him a bit too much.”

Adviser Adam Crawford of Figure Weight Loss also weighed in on Lorenzen’s setbacks.

“Over the spring and into the summer he was perfect with things. I would almost say he was too good with his nutrition,” Crawford said. “But then he turned it off. It’s like black or white with him, and we need to find the comfortable gray zone. … It’s just about finding the happy place for him where he’s eating right, but he still has time to be himself … not having to be perfect all the time.”

During the two years of the project and its ups and downs, Lorenzen regularly gave live updates and shout-outs from his Facebook page, some videos totaling well more than a half hour. He never shied from the issues that plagued him and used his platform to encourage others.

“I may have a slide, but I’m going to come back up and I’m going to keep fighting it again. And I’m doing that. … I’m not giving up,” Lorenzen said April 12. “I’m going to keep fighting through this thing, because that’s what I do. I fight, I fight, I fight, because I’ve got too many good things going on in my life right now to give up.”

Jared Peck, the Herald-Leader’s Digital Sports Writer, covers high school athletics and has been with the company as a writer and editor for more than 19 years.
Support my work with a digital subscription