George Atkinson III, a former Raiders kick returner and the son of George Atkinson II, a Pro Bowl defensive back with the Raiders in the 1970s, has died, TMZ Sports has reported.
It is not known how Atkinson III, 27, died.
According to TMZ, Josh Atkinson, George III’s twin brother died of suicide on Christmas Day 2018 — two months after the twins’ mother died. Writing on theunsealed.com, an online platform which encourages people to “write and share open letters in hopes of sparking important conversations,” George III confirmed that his brother died by suicide, adding he was “filled with anger and guilt,” after his brother’s death. “I was on an emotional roller coaster and in a real dark place,” he said.
George III and Josh, born Nov. 29, 1992, attended Livermore’s Granada High School, playing football and running track.
In George III’s online post, he wrote that he and his brother were motivated academically in order to play college football. They both accepted scholarship offers from Notre Dame. In three seasons at Notre Dame, George III rushed for 943 yards and 10 touchdowns. Josh played 11 games as a defensive back.
George III signed with the Raiders as an undrafted in 2014. In his only season with Oakland, he returned seven kickoffs for an average of 18.1 yards. He also returned kickoffs with the Cleveland Browns in 2016.
The senior George Atkinson was a two-time Pro Bowler as a strong safety with the Raiders, intercepting 30 passes and recovering three fumbles in eight seasons. He also returned punts, returning three for touchdowns. He won a Super Bowl ring with the 1976 Raiders. He finished his career playing six games with the Broncos in 1979.
Shortly after Josh’s death, George III wrote, “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.
“And so should you…”
To get help, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). You can also message the Crisis Text Line at 741741. For crisis support in Spanish, call 1-888-628-9454.
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