Former Notre Dame and NFL running back George Atkinson III has died, according to multiple reports. He was 27 years old. While the cause of death has not been confirmed, TMZ reported that Atkinson died by suicide. He was the son of Oakland Raiders legend George Atkinson and he had a twin brother, Josh, who passed away back in January. The loss of his twin brother reportedly caused Atkinson to suffer from depression, writing an open letter earlier this year where he talked about how he attempted to "harm himself" and how his daughter helped him through some dark times.
"Without my daughter, I don’t know where I would be right now," he wrote. "She gave me that second wind of motivation. I went to seek help and spoke to a psychologist. I realized I had to let go of this ego that made me think sharing my feelings was showing weakness. Also, I had to learn to love myself."
"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."
Atkinson's mother, who passed away last year, suffered from " paranoid schizophrenia, which led to drug addiction." The twin boys were raised by their mother and Atkinson talked about how it was not easy living under her roof.
"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," Atkinson wrote.
Atkinson played college football at Notre Dame and he rushed for 943 yards and 10 touchdowns from 2011-2013. He then was signed by the Oakland Raiders as an undrafted free agent in 2014 and was with the team for two seasons.
In 2016, Atkinson was cut by the Raiders and then signed with the Cleveland Browns. He was cut by the Browns next year and spent time with the Raiders, Kansas City Chiefs and New York Jets but not seeing any action on the field. For his NFL career, Atkinson rushed for 34 yards and one touchdown on seven carries.