Ex-Notre Dame and NFL running back George Atkinson III dies at 27 a year after his twin’s suicide

Ex-Notre Dame running back George Atkinson III has died at 27 nearly one year after his twin brother and former Fighting Irish teammate Josh committed suicide

Ex-Notre Dame running back George Atkinson III has died at 27 nearly one year after his twin brother and former Fighting Irish teammate Josh committed suicide

Ex-Notre Dame running back George Atkinson III has died at 27 nearly one year after his twin brother and former Fighting Irish teammate Josh committed suicide

Former Notre Dame running back and NFL player George Atkinson III has died at 27 nearly one year after his twin brother and former Fighting Irish teammate Josh committed suicide.

Multiple reports have confirmed Atkinson’s passing, but no cause of death has yet been given. According to The Athletic’s Pete Sampson, George III had ‘been dealing with depression since the death of his twin brother Josh roughly one year ago.’

George Atkinson III is survived by his two-year-old daughter.

He published an open letter following his brother’s suicide, crediting his daughter with saving his life, but also admitting that he had been institutionalized after attempting to harm himself.

The twins are the sons of famed Oakland Raiders defensive back George Atkinson II. Josh also played defensive back in college, whereas George III was a running back and punt returner, who went on to have brief stints with the Cleveland Browns and the Raiders.

The Atkinson twins lost their mother to complications from Crohn’s disease shortly before Josh’s suicide, George III revealed in that open letter. She had suffered from paranoid schizophrenia in their youth.

The twins are the sons of famed Oakland Raiders defensive back George Atkinson II (center). Josh also played defensive back in college, whereas George III (left) was a running back and punt returner, who went on to have brief stints with the Cleveland Browns and the Raiders

The twins are the sons of famed Oakland Raiders defensive back George Atkinson II (center). Josh also played defensive back in college, whereas George III (left) was a running back and punt returner, who went on to have brief stints with the Cleveland Browns and the Raiders

The twins are the sons of famed Oakland Raiders defensive back George Atkinson II (center). Josh also played defensive back in college, whereas George III (left) was a running back and punt returner, who went on to have brief stints with the Cleveland Browns and the Raiders

Multiple reports have confirmed Atkinson's passing, but no cause of death has yet been given. According to The Athletic's Pete Sampson, George III had 'been dealing with depression since the death of his twin brother Josh roughly one year ago'

Multiple reports have confirmed Atkinson's passing, but no cause of death has yet been given. According to The Athletic's Pete Sampson, George III had 'been dealing with depression since the death of his twin brother Josh roughly one year ago'

Multiple reports have confirmed Atkinson’s passing, but no cause of death has yet been given. According to The Athletic’s Pete Sampson, George III had ‘been dealing with depression since the death of his twin brother Josh roughly one year ago’

George Atkinson III was perhaps best known for his time at Notre Dame

George Atkinson III was perhaps best known for his time at Notre Dame

He did go on to have brief stints with the Cleveland Browns and Oakland Raiders

He did go on to have brief stints with the Cleveland Browns and Oakland Raiders

George Atkinson III was perhaps best known for his time at Notre Dame (left), but did go on to have brief stints with the Cleveland Browns and Oakland Raiders (right) 

‘My mom suffered from paranoid schizophrenia, which led to drug addiction,’ wrote George III. ‘Crack was her main choice. Since we were babies, she would have episodes. She would think people were out to get her or she would hallucinate. Eventually, she’d get 5150’d, which is where she was forced into an institution. My brother and I didn’t know what was going on. All we knew was that people were taking our mom away from us.’

As George III explained, he and his brother came to rely on their father, but could not escape the trauma of their past.

‘Eventually, we were taken away from our mom,’ George III wrote. ‘After living with our uncle for almost two years our dad stepped up when we were about 13 and took us in to live with him.

The twins, former teammates at Notre Dame, died within a year of each other in 2019

The twins, former teammates at Notre Dame, died within a year of each other in 2019

The twins, former teammates at Notre Dame, died within a year of each other in 2019

‘Our dad instilled the discipline and guidance that we didn’t have in our lives as young kids. It was also the first time we had real stability, as it was the longest we had ever been at one spot.

‘However, we still did not open up about all that we went through. We just kept moving forward.’ 

A native of California, George III was a member of the Notre Dame track team, competing in the 60-meter and 100-meter dash.

His NFL career was brief.

After a few short stints with the Raiders – his father’s team – George III was claimed off waivers by the Browns, for whom he scored his first and only NFL touchdown.

Atkinson went on to sign with practice squads and Kansas City and with the New York Jets, and has been out of the league since September of 2018.

George Atkinson II was a two-time AFL All-Star, who helped the Raiders win Super Bowl XI over the Minnesota Vikings in 1977. 

Earlier this year, George Atkinson III reacted to his brother's suicide on Twitter

Earlier this year, George Atkinson III reacted to his brother's suicide on Twitter

Earlier this year, George Atkinson III reacted to his brother’s suicide on Twitter 

Cornerback Josh Atkinson #43 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and his teammates prepare to play against the Michigan Wolverines at Notre Dame Stadium on September 22, 2012

Cornerback Josh Atkinson #43 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and his teammates prepare to play against the Michigan Wolverines at Notre Dame Stadium on September 22, 2012

Cornerback Josh Atkinson #43 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and his teammates prepare to play against the Michigan Wolverines at Notre Dame Stadium on September 22, 2012

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