The Bills community is mourning the loss of one of its most iconic fans.
Ezra Castro, better known as “Pancho Billa,” died Tuesday at the UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas after a long battle with spinal cancer. He was 39, the Buffalo News reported.
Our hearts 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.
— Pancho Billa (@PanchoBilla1) May 14, 2019
A Bills fan through-and-through, and an inspiration to us all.
— Buffalo Bills (@BuffaloBills) May 14, 2019
Castro was a staple at Bills games, where he would dress up in a Bills-themed sombrero with a wrestling mask. The team honored him Tuesday with a tribute video, where he is heard discussing his love for the team.
After Castro was diagnosed with cancer in 2017, the Bills allowed him to announced their third-round pick of the 2018 draft.
What a moment. ❤️ #FootballIsFamily
📺: NFLN/FOX/ESPN pic.twitter.com/y7PiZlKz8X
— Buffalo Bills (@BuffaloBills) April 28, 2018
Castro also was visited by Vernon Olivier, the Bills’ first-round pick this year, in the hospital. Olivier said he needed to meet Castro “in the flesh” and that Castro gave him one of his wristbands for Olivier to wear.
Bills co-owner Kim Pegula also expressed her sympathy for Castro’s family and friends in a touching tweet.
Pancho was a pillar of positive strength and energy for me and all of #BillsMafia. He’s been a tremendous inspiration for our team. I was fortunate enough to spend time with him and get to know his story. My heart goes out to his children, friends and family. Viva Los Bills! pic.twitter.com/UFBVMjMWDd
— Kim Pegula (@KimPegula) May 14, 2019
“Pancho was a pillar of positive strength and energy for me and all of #BillsMafia. He’s been a tremendous inspiration for our team. I was fortunate enough to spend time with him and get to know his story. My heart goes out to his children, friends and family. Viva Los Bills!”
Tributes for Castro poured in from the Buffalo community, all of them exemplifying how much he meant to the Bills.
“I don’t want flowers at my funeral. I hate flowers. I want people to bring backpacks-for-kids filled with school supplies.”
Pancho Billa was well-known as a fan.
Ezra Castro was best-known as a kind, generous soul who saw the good in everything.
— Jonah Javad (@JonahJavad) May 14, 2019
Heavy hearts in Buffalo today as we pray for Pancho and his family. We will never lose your spirit, and the inspiration you shared with us. Pancho Power Forever! #VivaLosBills pic.twitter.com/9SYljbStV8
— Josh Allen (@JoshAllenQB) May 14, 2019
Thank you #PanchoBilla , a true Rider and fighter for himself and for the #BuffaloBills organization. You Will forever be apart of 716, and the 716 will forever be apart of you. Rest Easy #Pancho The fight Continues #YouAlreadyShnow pic.twitter.com/frpmdZyuz9
— Dion Dawkins (@DDawkins66) May 14, 2019
We had the pleasure of meeting Pancho Billa at the 2017 NFL Draft. His love for the game left an impact on all of us. pic.twitter.com/zZ27o1yQsD
— Philadelphia Eagles (@Eagles) May 14, 2019
Saddened to hear that @BuffaloBills superfan Ezra Castro — aka “Pancho Billa” — has passed away.
Pancho Billa was a beloved member of the Western NY community and his incredible strength and joy represented the the very best of Buffalo and their fans. https://t.co/ygCfUPyF1Y
— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) May 14, 2019
— 7 Eyewitness News (@WKBW) May 14, 2019