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George Atkinson III death: Tributes pour in as ex-Notre Dame RB dies a year after brother Josh’s suicide

George Atkinson being interviewed after signing for Notre Dame
George Atkinson III played running back for Notre Dame. Pic credit: Notre Dame Fighting Irish / YouTube

George Atkinson III died yesterday (Monday) at the age of 27, less than a year after his twin brother Josh committed suicide. It has not been confirmed how the former Notre Dame and NFL running back died, but he is known to have struggled since his brother’s death.

The Athletic’s Pete Sampson first reported his death.

In an open letter written earlier this year and addressed to “To kids going through tough times,” he told of himself and brother Josh having a tough childhood. Their mother suffered from paranoid schizophrenia and became addicted to crack; she had been violent towards her sons.

He recounts how their father took them in when they turned 13 and instilled some “guidance and discipline” in them. Their mother died of Crohn’s disease in October 2018, and Josh hanged himself that Christmas.

In the open letter, Atkinson tells of how he ended up in an institution and had begun to self-harm. He then says his daughter helped to save his life; “without my daughter, I don’t know where I would be right now, she gave me that second wind of motivation.”

Condolences came rushing in on hearing the tragic news.

George and Josh had become teammates at Notre Dame in 2011, where George particularly excelled, scoring 10 Touchdowns. Josh played as a defensive back, the same position his father had been.

Following in his father’s footsteps, George played briefly at Oakland Raiders, scoring this 53-yard beauty in the pre-season.

George didn’t stay long at the Raiders where he primarily returned punts, he then returned punts for the Cleveland Browns in 2016, but he was mostly relegated to practice squads.

George Atkinson Sr. was a star returner and defensive back for the Raiders, making two Pro Bowls.  He won Superbowl XI with the raiders in 1977.

Atkinson is survived by his two-year-old daughter and his father.

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