Health Minister Edwin Poots paid an emotional tribute to the Spence family in the assembly, on 17 September 2012.
Ulster Rugby player Nevin Spence died on Saturday 15 September along with his brother Graham and his father Noel in a slurry tank accident at their farm in Hillsborough, County Down.
The 22-year-old, who had represented Ulster 42 times, mainly at centre, was tipped as a future Ireland international.
Mr Poots told MLAs he attended the same church as the family and knew them well.
The DUP MLA also spoke of the strong faith the Spence family had.
"Ulster will replace a centre but they will never replace the empty chairs in the family home," he said.
Tributes to the family were also made by Agriculture Minister Michelle O'Neill of Sinn Fein, the UUP's Basil McCrea, SDLP Leader Alasdair McDonnell, Alliance's Trevor Lunn, TUV leader Jim Allister and Green party leader Steven Agnew.