The State, a newspaper in Patten's native South Carolina, confirmed the wide receiver's death in a story published Friday morning.
One of Patten's former Patriots teammates, Richard Seymour, was among the first to tweet about the tragic news Friday morning. Other former Patriots teammates, including Deion Branch and Damien Woody, also shared their condolences on Twitter.
University of South Carolina tight ends coach Erik Kimrey tweeted Friday, "Lost a local legend yesterday. David Patten played for my father at Lower Richland and went on to win a Super Bowl. He will be missed! Praying for the Patten family."
Patten signed with the Patriots as a free agent in 2001 and became an important wide receiver in Tom Brady's first season as the starting quarterback. The Western Carolina product won three Super Bowl titles in his four seasons with the Patriots.
He even caught Brady's first career playoff touchdown pass in the Patriots' Super Bowl XXXVI win over the heavily favored St. Louis Rams. It's one of the most iconic plays of the team's first dynasty era.
Patten also caught a touchdown pass from Drew Bledsoe two weeks earlier when the Patriots defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 2001 AFC Championship Game. He caught eight passes for 107 yards in the famous Snow Bowl win over the Oakland Raiders in the AFC Divisional Round, too, highlighting how clutch he was during that postseason run.
On Oct. 21, 2001 against the Indianapolis Colts, Patten became the first player since 1979 to catch, run and throw for a touchdown in the same game.
Patten played 147 games for five teams in his 12-year NFL career with the New York Giants, Cleveland Browns, Patriots, Washington and New Orleans Saints. He tallied 324 receptions for 4,715 yards and 24 touchdowns.