George Atkinson III, who played running back at Notre Dame and had a brief stint in the NFL, has died. He was 27.
The Athletic's Pete Sampson reported his death Monday night. The cause has not been revealed.
Atkinson's twin brother, Josh, died of suicide last Christmas, shortly after the death of their mother. She suffered from mental illness and Crohn's disease.
Their father, George Atkinson II, played in the NFL with the Oakland Raiders (1968-77) and the Denver Broncos (1979). A defensive back, he was a standout on special teams, a two-time Pro Bowl selection and a Super Bowl champion.
The Atkinson twins were raised in Northern California and earned scholarships to Notre Dame. In three seasons there, George III rushed for 943 yards and 10 touchdowns. He went on to appear in five games with the Raiders (2014) and 16 with the Cleveland Browns (2016), primarily returning kicks.
In a personal essay published in October on The Unsealed, George II discussed his life, describing a life of instability until age 13 when he and Josh went to live with their father. He detailed his brother's suicide by hanging last Christmas.
"That's the moment I felt like I lost everything," he wrote. "That's the moment I can't describe. I never want you to feel his pain or my pain."
He said he also needed mental health care after Josh's death but found motivation to live through his young daughter. He wrote the holidays -- and the anniversaries of the deaths of his mother and brother -- would be hard.
"Like you, I am still struggling," he wrote. "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..."
--Field Level Media