Detroit sports columnist Drew Sharp dies at 56

Long-time Detroit sports columnist Drew Sharp died in his home early Friday morning.

The Detroit Free Press says Sharp has been a columnist since 1999 who covered high school, college and pro beats before becoming a columnist. He was 38 when he was promoted to columnist to replace the retiring Charlie Vincent, the Free Press reports.

Sharp graduated from Detroit Catholic Central in 1978 and the University of Michigan in 1982. In 1983, he began his career covering Detroit sports with the Free Press and was elevated to columnist in 1999. Along the way, he made an impact with the FOX 2 family.

Known primarily for the critical tone he exposed in his writing, Sharp was often taken to task for being "too negative". Those who knew him personally say they were lucky to find know the real man behind the sardonic persona.

"He was very critical and he took he his role of critic very seriously. Away from that, he was one of the funniest, nicest people. if you knew him, you would like him - and if you got to know him, it was glorious," Bob Wojnowski said.

Sharp never took himself too seriously but that's not to say he took his job as a journalist and columnist at the Free Press lightly. He not only felt a great deal of responsibility to his readers, but beneath the surface, he shared their passion.

Drew revealed a much more personal perspective on the Free Press website: he had two open heart surgeries before the age of eight - meaning he could never play organized sports - and he had a debilitating stutter that left him shy and speechless as a child. Sharp overcame those obstacles and wrote "either you define yourself, or others will define you."

According to the Oakland County Medical Examiner, he died from hypertensive cardiovascular disease. He was only 56-year-old.