27-Year-Old Former NFL Player George Atkinson III Dies Nearly A Year After His Brother Committed Suicide
He'd been suffering from depression following the death of his twin.
Former Cleveland Browns running back George Atkinson III died Tuesday at the age of 27.
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According to Pete Sampson of The Athletic, the cause of death hasn't been released, but Atkinson has been dealing with depression since twin his brother, Josh, took his life a year ago.
Former Notre Dame running back George Atkinson III has died. Atkinson III has been dealing with depression since the death of his twin brother Josh roughly one year ago. Both were part of Notre Dame’s 2011 recruiting class.— Pete Sampson (@PeteSampson_) December 3, 2019
Since 2018, the Atkinsons have lost three of their beloved family members. Two months before Josh committed suicide last Christmas, the twins lost their mother from complications of Crohn’s disease, The Mercury News reported.
Shortly after losing Josh, George, who'd been a star college football athlete at Notre Dame, wrote a letter centered on the bond he had with his twin. The 27-year-old described the struggles of living with a mother who was addicted to drugs and how he and his brother relied on one other to survive a rough childhood.
"For me and my twin brother Josh, each other was really all we had," he wrote. "Through the years we grew closer and closer. But neither of us were ever taught to talk about our feelings. For me, I felt like I had to be this tough guy and show no emotion."
George said the twins lived with their uncle for almost two years after being taken from their mom. Their father, George Atkinson II, who was also a professional football player, decided to take the twins when they were about 13 years old.
"Our dad instilled the discipline and guidance that we didn’t have in our lives as young kids," George wrote. "However, we still did not open up about all that we went through. We just kept moving forward."
The brothers focused on school and received scholarship from Notre Dame, where they starred on the football field. George then signed with the Raiders in 2014, where he played one season before joining the Browns in 2016. The running back last played for the New York Jets in 2018, according to CBS Sports.
As he was suffering from depression following the death of his brother and mother, George said he was trying to harm himself also, but he started thinking about his 2-year-old daughter.
"I knew I had to find a way to keep going and be a role model for her," he wrote. "Without my daughter, I don’t know where I would be right now. She gave me that second wind of motivation."
Following news of his death, condolences poured in on social media.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of the late George Atkinson III. pic.twitter.com/S32URlam6U— Notre Dame Football (@NDFootball) December 3, 2019
Just received some news that former #Raiders RB George Atkinson III has passed away at the age of 27.— Raider Cody (@RaiderCody) December 3, 2019
Their family lost his brother (Josh) last year. Prayers to the Atkinson family. #RaiderNation pic.twitter.com/aie7qyH0ao
RIP George Atkinson III. Two brothers gone way too early. pic.twitter.com/X9AHNRXgd9— SportsCrack Apparel (@sportscrack) December 3, 2019
Our sincerest condolences to George Atkinson and his family after the passing of former #Raiders & #GoIrish player George Atkinson III. #RaiderNation mourns with his family. pic.twitter.com/zcLP2pZOJO— Silver&BlackToday (@SilverBlack2Day) December 3, 2019
The former Notre Dame star tried seeking out help from psychologists.
"I wish I knew how to open up and talk to my parents, friends or family. Instead, my brother and I were like faucets that were running water with caps on," he wrote. "Eventually, you run out of steam and all this hot water that’s stuck in this little funnel bursts and there’s nothing you can do about it."