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Buccaneers linebacker has career game days after teen brother was killed

Tampa Bay Buccaneers rookie linebacker Kwon Alexander played with a heavy heart Sunday in the upset victory over the Atlanta Falcons — less than 48 hours after his 17-year-old brother was shot to death.

Following the Bucs’ 23-20 overtime win and playing with all emotion, including a game-high 11 tackles, Alexander acknowledged the loss of his brother, Broderick Taylor II, who was killed during a fight on Friday night in their hometown of Anniston, Ala.

“It’s been hard, man,” the fourth-round draft choice out of LSU said. “He was my little brother, but I know he’d want me to be strong for him, and I came out here and dedicated this game to him. (I was) very determined because (he) wanted me to do it. All he wanted me to do is ball, so dedicated it to him.”

Buccaneers head coach Lovie Smith said he “left it up to him” regarding the 21-year-old Alexander’s decision to play.

“I can’t imagine losing your 17-year-old brother when you’re fairly young, too,” Smith said. “Again, football is a haven for you sometimes. It’s a place to go … his teammates were there for him, being supportive.”

Alexander picked off Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan in the end zone on the first possession of the game. Alexander took off on a 93-yard return and was caught at the Falcons’ 11-yard line, but his leaping pick was wiped out because teammate Jacquies Smith had jumped offside prior to the snap.

On Atlanta’s next possession, Alexander stripped wide receiver Julio Jones from behind on the end of a 41-yard catch-and-run, stole the ball and returned it 20 yards.

“I never give up,” Alexander said. “He wouldn’t let me.”

Buccaneers teammates rallied around the grieving Alexander.

“Amazing, man. We did it for Kwon,” quarterback Jameis Winston said after the game. “When a brother goes down, we are our brother’s keeper … we have to be our brother’s keeper.”

“Just losing my brother, and them being there, my brothers, I appreciate them,” Alexander said of his teammates. “It means so much to me that they’re there for me.”

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