George Atkinson III, ex-Raiders, Notre Dame running back dies a year after twin brother’s suicide

George Atkinson #25 of the Cleveland Browns celebrates after defeating the San Diego Chargers 20-17 at FirstEnergy Stadium on December 24, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

Former NFL player, George Atkinson III, who was wracked with grief and had to be institutionalized for depression after his twin brother died a year ago of suicide, has also died. He was 27.

Atkinson was a star running back at Notre Dame who would go on to play for the Oakland Raiders and the Cleveland Browns. No cause of death has yet been announced, according to Fox News.

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Atkinson’s brother, Josh Atkinson, played defensive back for the Fighting Irish from 2011 to 2013 but never played in the NFL. Josh took his own life just before the holidays last year. The brothers mom also died last October from complications of Crohn’s Disease, reported PEOPLE magazine.

Both men were sons of George Atkinson II, a Pro Bowl defensive back who played for the Raiders and Denver Broncos.

Atkinson penned an emotional essay on open letter web platform The Unsealed a couple of months ago that addressed all that he had been feeling and going through since his mother’s death and brother’s suicide. The letter, entitled: “How I turned my Losses into Lessons,” was written to “kids going through tough times.” The letter detailed a tough childhood where the brothers moved a lot and the mom suffered from paranoid schizophrenia and self-medicated, eventually becoming addicted to crack.

“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.

“For me and my twin brother Josh, each other was really all we had. 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.”

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Atkinson said he thought he and Josh were doing ok, even after they decided to take their mom off of life support last October. However, on Christmas Eve, when Josh went missing, and he found him “drunk and upset” and “on the verge of driving to the bridge and doing something stupid,” he realized it was just a mask.

The next day, Josh hanged himself, and Atkinson III had to be institutionalized in the same place that once housed his mom after he tried to hurt himself.

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