Former Oakland Raiders running back George Atkinson III has passed away at the age of 27, according to The Athletic’s Pete Sampson. His cause of death is unknown currently, but Sampson noted that Atkinson has been dealing with depression since the death of his twin brother back in January. The running back was on four different teams throughout his career including the Raiders, the Cleveland Browns, the Kansas City Chiefs and the New York Jets.
He played 21 games and was mainly a kick returner. However, he did score a rushing touchdown for the Browns in 2016. Atkinson’s last NFL stint was on the Jets’ practice squad, but he was waived before the season. He played college football at Notre Dame where he thrived as a kick returner. He went into the NFL as an undrafted free agent but never found a long-term situation.
1. His Twin Brother, Josh, Died a Year Ago
As previously mentioned, George’s brother Josh died in January. It’s clear that his death had a major effect on George. Shortly after his brother’s death, he took to his Instagram to mourn.
“I can’t put into words the pain that comes with losing my twin brother (Joshua Alexander Atkinson) thank you for the love and support please keep Josh in your prayers and respect the space I need to mourn this tragic loss,” Atkinson wrote on Instagram back in January.
Josh’s cause of death was suicide by hanging, according to George.
2. He Was the Son of Raiders Legend George Atkinson
The Atkinson brothers had big shoes to fill in the football arena as they were the sons of Raiders legend George Atkinson. The retired defensive back was a two time AFL All-Star and a Super Bowl champion. He played nine years in Oakland as a safety and kick returner. Atkinson is a beloved member of Raider Nation and is frequently seen at games. It’s clear that the Atkinson family was a football family.
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3. Atkinson Had a Rough Childhood
It was only a month ago that George wrote an open letter about his life for TheUnsealed.com. His mother had mental issues, which caused a lot of the family’s problems.
My mom suffered from paranoid schizophrenia, which led to drug addiction. Crack was her main choice. Since we were babies, she would have episodes. She would think people were out to get her or she would hallucinate. Eventually, she’d get 5150’d, which is where she was forced into an institution. My brother and I didn’t know what was going on. All we knew was that people were taking our mom away from us.
The mother’s instability led to the two boys never having a consistent home.
Our lives were never stable. We moved around a lot because my mom wouldn’t be able to pay rent or she would damage the property, writing on the walls. They put my brother and me in special education classes because we weren’t attending school regularly, which affected our self-esteem.
4. His Mother Died in October 2018
In his open, Atkinson detailed about how his mother died not long ago and only a few months before Josh did.
Last October, when were 26 years old, our mother died from complications from Crohn’s disease. We both were grieving but I thought Josh was taking it better than me.
I guess he was just masking it…
According to George, Josh took their mother’s death very hard and he detailed his brother’s struggles.
On Christmas Eve, he went missing. Through the GPS in his car we found him. Drunk and upset, he was on the verge of driving to the bridge and doing something stupid. He said he felt guilty because we pulled the plug on our mother’s life support. I told him it was our decision. I reassured him no one is blaming nobody and to snap out of it because it was in God’s hand.
I calmed him down and took him home.
The next day he hanged himself.
5. He Has a Young Daughter
Josh’s death took a toll on George. He even admitted in his open letter that he tried to take the same route his brother did and ended up institutionalized because of it.
That’s the moment I felt like I lost everything. That’s the moment I can’t describe. I never want you to feel his pain or my pain.
I was 5150’d – forced into the same institution my mom was once in because I, too, tried to harm myself.
George said in his letter that his daughter was the reason he kept going.
Without my daughter, I don’t know where I would be right now. She gave me that second wind of motivation.
His daughter’s age and name aren’t public information. He went on to acknowledge that the holiday season was going to be tough for him this year.
Like you, I am still struggling. My mother’s birthday just passed and I know the holidays this year won’t be easy. But I am trying to take life one day at a time.