George Atkinson III’s friendships with his former teammates had a lasting impact.
Former NFL player George’s death at 27 was confirmed this week by multiple outlets and came just about one year after he lost his twin Josh to death by suicide. It also came a little over a year after the brothers’ mother died of complications from Crohn’s disease.
George’s cause of death has not yet been released.
Derek Carr, the quarterback for the Oakland Raiders, opened up during a press conference this week about his time playing with George, telling reporters, “It’s crazy how quick life can come at you, and I love George,” ESPN reported.
“We had a lot of fun playing basketball at 24 Hour Fitness, as well as playing football games together and competing together,” the 28-year-old said. “He was always so joyful, man. So happy every single time. It felt like he was cut and re-signed a whole bunch of times, and every single time, he just looked so thankful to be here. So I just wanted to say that we’re thinking about him and his family that we love.”
Before playing with the Raiders, George played college football at Notre Dame with his twin Josh.
In an open letter written in October, George opened up about his struggles in grieving Josh. Titled “How I Turned My Losses Into Lessons” and published by The Unsealed, the letter recounted the loss of their mother and how the tragedy weighed heavily on Josh.
George said his brother felt guilty over their mom’s death. Following his brother’s death by suicide on Christmas 2018, George wrote that he was institutionalized for self-harm.
“That’s the moment I felt like I lost everything. That’s the moment I can’t describe,” he wrote of losing his brother. “I never want you to feel his pain or my pain.”
Grappling with that pain at the time and processing his family tragedies, George said he looked for the “why” in his life — what drove him to work hard and persevere every day. He said his 2-year-old daughter was his motivator.
Carr told reporters he heard about George’s emotional and powerful note, but admitted, “I would have never guessed that he was struggling that hard.”
“I know things had happened in the year prior and things like that make you hurt, but every time I was around George, I never thought that he was hurting that much, to be honest. Every time I was around him, he was full of happiness, full of joy, always joking,” he recounted, ESPN reported.
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), text “STRENGTH” to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 or go to suicidepreventionlifeline.org.