He was the inspirational leader of one of the NFL’s most loyal followings. And the tributes continue to pour in for Buffalo Bills fan “Pancho Billa.”
His given name was Ezra Castro. He was and is now known to all as “Pancho Billa.” The 39-year-old story of perseverance and inspiration recently lost his battle with cancer. Anne Neville of the Buffalo News tells the story of Castro, a native of the Lone Star State who cheered on his Buffalo Bills donned in his colorful costume and with unbridled passion.
Billa’s family issued a statement following his passing on Tuesday.
Our hearts are broken as we have lost our dear brother Ezra “Pancho Billa” this morning. We are thankful and forever grateful for all the love and support during this journey. Ezra was surrounded by family and loved ones. At this time we ask for privacy as we mourn our loss.
The love and admiration for this man has been pouring in non-stop since the news broke from all corners and from many of those who love the game. There were also many messages and thoughts from Orchard Park, New York. From ownership (Kim Pegula) and head coach Sean McDermott to former Bills players such as Pro Football Hall of Famer Andre Reed and current defensive tackle Harrison Phillips.
James P McCoy, a longtime photographer for the Buffalo News, posted this video of “Pancho Billa” at his request following his passing.
He will always be a hero to so many. He shared his struggles with this deadly disease and fought the good fight until the very end. There are so many others facing a similar situation and “Pancho Billa” made his battle very public and in doing that, touched so many lives. Prayers go out to his family, friends and all that were inspired by his many messages and his amazing life story.