"How do I even find the words," Carter wrote. "I prayed for you for 27 years, and we finally found each other. I trust that God has a plan for everything, but I don’t think I will ever understand why this happened. I’m so sorry I couldn’t save you, and I hope you know how hard I tried.
"Everyone knows how talented, dedicated, and passionate you were about the game of football. Those of us who were lucky enough to know your heart know that it was even bigger than your larger-than-life personality and stature. Nothing was ever about you, it was always about others. Multiple times, I heard you say “there are so many good people in this world,” and that statement alone shows what kind of person you were. Always looking for the good.
"I can never thank you enough for loving me the way that you did. In such a short time, you showed me the love I have prayed for my entire life. You loved me fiercely and unapologetically. We were planning our future. We were just getting started. I’m sure some think we’re crazy for feeling the way we did about each other in such a short time. I thought we were crazy at first too. But you helped me understand that when two souls connect the way ours did, love has no set timeline.
"Words cannot convey how badly I miss you. I hope you know how loved you are. By myself, your amazing family, your friends, your teammates, your students, and countless others. I don’t know how I’ll ever get past this. But I’m so honored to love you and be loved by you. You changed my life, and I’m forever grateful for the time we had. No amount of time would have ever been enough. I love you, Ryan. Please watch over us. I can’t wait to see you again."
Mallett, 35, was swimming in the Gulf of Mexico off the Panhandle coast of Florida at the time of his death last Tuesday (June 27).
“The tragic loss of life, it’s always difficult when we lose a tourist or resident here, but we have no indication here of any dangerous conditions out there,” said Sheriff Eric Aden said in a videotaped statement last Wednesday (June 28) via the New York Post. “The entire Okaloosa County, as well as Destin, we’re not under red flags or double red flags despite some of the misperceptions out there.
“We were under a yellow flag, which is just swim with caution,” he continued. “It just seems to be a tragic accident and not something to do with the conditions of the surf or tides or currents.”
Mallett was reported to have struggled while attempting to swim to a second sandbar located about 150 feet away from the beach, officials said in a press release obtained by the New York Post last Wednesday. The former quarterback wasn't breathing when he was pulled out of the water by lifeguards and officially pronounced dead at a nearby hospital.
Body cam footage showed an officer running toward the scene as numerous bystanders were present on the beach.
“I think they got him on the board now,” the officer was told by a colleague when he arrived at the scene.
Mallett was identified as the victim of an apparent drowning in the Gulf of Mexico, the Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office announced in a statement shared last Tuesday.
“One of the individuals, an adult male, went under and lifeguards say he was not breathing when pulled out,” said the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office in a statement obtained by ABC News. “Lifesaving measures were immediately undertaken but the man was pronounced deceased at the Destin Emergency Room.”
Mallett's death was confirmed to KHTV in Little Rock by Skip Carr, the assistant principal at White Hall High School in Arkansas, where the former quarterback served as head football coach. The former Texas High School standout was a consensus five-star prospect, ranking as the No. 1 player from the state of Texas, No. 2 pro-style quarterback and No. 5 prospect for the 2007 national recruiting cycle, according to the 247Sports Composite.
Mallett spent his first collegiate season at the University of Michigan and appeared in 11 games as a true freshman in the absence of injured starter Chad Henne, but transferred after the conclusion of the 2007 season due to the Wolverines hiring of then-head coach Rich Rodriguez and a shift to a read option offensive scheme that typically centers around a dual-threat quarterback. The Batesville native transferred to Arkansas and excelled as a two-year starter after redshirting in 2008.
Mallett led the Razorbacks to an 8-5 record in 2009 and a 10-3 record in 2010, which included being ranked No. 12 overall during his final collegiate season and being named as a second-team All-SEC quarterback during his two seasons as a starter.