"He was a good person who smiled all of the time," Caldwell's mother told TMZ. "He tried to help everyone he could. He was the type of guy who would take his shirt off his back and give it to you."
Caldwell's mother said her son was "ambushed" by a "couple of people" outside of his apartment who were trying to rob him. According to a release from Tampa police, officers responded to a call regarding a shooting at Caldwell's home shortly before 11 p.m. ET. Upon arriving at the scene, police discovered Caldwell with a gunshot wound in the yard where the officers provided aid before a fire-rescue crew transported Caldwell to the hospital where he was pronounced dead.
The Tampa police also said in the release that the shooting didn't appear to be random and that detectives were working to develop leads.
Caldwell, who also played baseball in high school and was drafted by the Cincinnati Reds in 1998, chose instead to play football for Florida. In three seasons with the Gators, Caldwell caught 141 passes for 2,088 yards and 18 touchdowns. The Gators went 20-5 in his final two seasons, winning an SEC title in 2000 and an Orange Bowl in 2001.
Caldwell would leave Florida to enter the 2002 NFL Draft after catching 65 passes for 1,059 yards and 10 touchdowns as a junior. The San Diego Chargers selected him with a second-round pick. He spent six seasons in the NFL, with his best year coming in 2006 when he caught 61 passes for 760 yards and four touchdowns for the New England Patriots.