(KRON) – Former NFL running back George Atkinson III, son of Former Raiders’ player George Atkinson II, passed away Monday at 27, according to multiple reports.
The running back was an undrafted free agent out of Notre Dame in 2014 and played five games with Oakland.
Atkinson’s father, George Atkinson II, was a two-time Pro Bowl selection and a Super Bowl champion.
The cause of death has not been revealed.
The passing came just one year after the running back’s twin brother Josh died of suicide.
The running back wrote an open letter in October on The Unsealed.
The letter discussed the childhood struggles he faced, while also coping with the loss of his brother and mother who had passed one year prior.
Atkinson’s mother suffered from paranoid schizophrenia and drug addiction that later led to him and his brother to living with their father.
The boys’ mother passed due to complications of Crohn’s disease.
After their mother’s death, the running back explained how they were both grieving but “thought Josh was taking it better than me.”
Atkinson wrote, “I guess he was just masking it…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.”
The next day his twin brother hanged himself.
Atkinson explains in the letter the pain he endured after hearing the news his brother had passed, “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.”
The running back went on to explain how he was filled with anger and guilt, but was able to find his reason in life to continue.
“Now, my daughter, who is only two years old, is my ‘why,’ ” Atkinson said. “Without my daughter, I don’t know where I would be right now. She gave me that second wind of motivation.”
The running back concluded the letter by saying, “If my pain teaches you how to express yourself during hard times, everything that I lost can turn into a gift that I can give to all of you to help you live more positive lives.”
A relative tells The Athletic the running back had “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.”
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