A former Sammamish High School football star is in the intensive-care unit in Harborview after Bellevue police say he was attacked for no known reason early Sunday.

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A former Sammamish High School football star is hospitalized in a medically induced coma after Bellevue police say he was attacked for no known reason early Sunday.

J.D. Aylward, 24, was beaten unconscious after spending the previous night celebrating with friends, according to his mother. Aylward, of Bellevue, is in the intensive-care unit at Seattle’s Harborview Medical Center with severe head injuries.

“The mystery is, what happened between 2 and 4 a.m.?” said Colleen Aylward as she stood outside her son’s hospital room on Friday afternoon.

Bellevue police spokeswoman Carla Iafrate said they received a report around 4 a.m. Sunday of a man unconscious and bleeding in the middle of the 1200 block of 140th Avenue Northeast.

“We really don’t know what happened to him. There’s a lot of fact-finding going on, and we’re retracing the steps of his night and day before,” Iafrate added.

Colleen Aylward said detectives told her that a woman motorist saw her son on 140th, in a section of Bellevue between Crossroads and Overlake. Investigators said that Aylward had his cellphone, his credit card, his watch and his passport — which he carried because he had recently lost his ID — on him when he was found.

Police are using the cellphone to retrace his steps, Colleen Aylward said.

Katy Jo Meyer, a cousin, said that Aylward, who works in the auto-detailing center at the Pro Sports Club in Bellevue, “gets along with everyone.”

Aylward had spent Saturday night at a friend’s wedding, then went with a group of friends to Munchbar, in downtown Bellevue. When his friends got up to leave, he said he was going to stay a little longer with some other people he ran into at the bar, Meyer said.

“There’s about 90 minutes where we don’t know what happened,” Meyer said. “He was texting people and making calls, the last text at 2:15, and he left the bar around 2. He called a couple of people at 2:20 and said he was getting a ride home. His last call, at 2:32, the person didn’t answer. Nothing seemed alarming.”

Meyer said that a part of Aylward’s skull was removed to relieve brain swelling. She said he has a fracture above his left eye and it’s unclear whether he will suffer permanent vision damage. A spokeswoman for Harborview said he’s in serious condition.

“We can’t talk to him. There’s been at least 30 to 50 people coming to Harborview every single day. The support has been incredible,” Meyer said.

Both his mother and Meyer are stunned that anything terrible would happen to Aylward.

He graduated in 2006 from Sammamish High School, where he was a running back and wide receiver on the football team. Aylward played football at Boise State University the following year.

“He loved running touchdowns and making the crowd happy. He was a really good guy, not the killer instinct that the NFL would want, but Boise State did want him,” Colleen Aylward said.

After one year at Boise State, he transferred to Washington State University. With only a few classes left before graduating, Aylward decided this summer not to return to Pullman and instead work full time at the Pro Sports Club so he could help support his mom.

Colleen Aylward, who runs an executive headhunting firm in Bellevue, said her company, Devon James Associates, has struggled in the down economy. J.D. is her only child.

“He’s my best buddy,” Colleen Aylward said. “My first thing was, holy crap, what the hell happened? Who did this? I’m (now) a lot more focused on his recovery.”

Bellevue police are asking that anyone who saw Aylward before he was injured, or anyone with information, call 911 to report what they know.

Seattle Times news researcher Miyoko Wolf contributed to this report.

Jennifer Sullivan: 206-464-8294 or jensullivan@seattletimes.com.

On Twitter @SeattleSullivan.