Rashaan Salaam, a former Heisman Trophy winner and NFL player, died by suicide at the age of 42. His cause of death was made official in the recently released autopsy report.
TMZ reports that Salaam’s autopsy report also claimed that his blood alcohol level, at the time his body was discovered, was triple the legal limit. The former University of Colorado student reportedly suffered from a history of depression and “recent life stressors.” He also tested positive for a key ingredient in marijuana.
Rashaan Salaam’s Cause of Death Ruled ‘Suicide’ https://t.co/p1Vv5pX4sW
— TMZ (@TMZ) December 29, 2016
The report further states that Rashaan Salaam’s body and a handwritten note were found near his girlfriend’s car in a park near his alma mater college on December 5. According to TMZ, there were several signs that pointed to suicide as the cause of death at that time, including his self-inflicted gunshot head wound. However, officials reportedly would not confirm that as the official cause of death until first completing the investigation.
Rashaan Salaam made waves on the Colorado Buffaloes football team while attending the University of Colorado between 1992 and 1994. In his junior season, the star running back scored 24 touchdowns, giving his team a major boost that helped them to end the season with an 11-1 record. It was not surprising when Salaam was unanimously added to the first-team All-American roster in 1994, nor when he received the Heisman Trophy that December.
— Chicago Bears (@CBears_News) December 29, 2016
Keep in mind that Salaam was considered for the Heisman Trophy that year among such top contenders as Kerry Collins, Ki-Jana Carter, and Steve McNair.
Salaam took the big step from college football star to the NFL when the Chicago Bears selected him with the 21st overall pick in the 1995 NFL Draft. During an April 2012 interview with Fred Mitchell from the Chicago Tribune, Salaam reflected on his memorable Draft Day 17 years later.
“When you look back on it…. I realize how special [Draft Day] was. When I was coming up, I didn’t realize how hard it was getting to the NFL. I am thankful to the McCaskey family for just taking a chance with me.”
Rashaan’s rookie year was as impressive as many people expected it would be, setting a Bears rookie record of 1,074 yards along with scoring 10 touchdowns. However, in the years that followed his rookie season, personal and professional fumbles and stumbles seemed to define him in the eyes of NFL fans and critics.
We’re deeply saddened to hear former #Bears running back Rashaan Salaam has passed away at the age of 42.
— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) December 6, 2016
After his time with the Chicago Bears ended in 1997, Rashaan bounced around between teams and even leagues — the XFL and CFL — while unfortunately experienced failed physical examinations, suspensions, cuts, and undone trades. Rashaan admitted that his partying days and marijuana usage contributed to his unexpected downfall in the NFL.
“I had no discipline. I had all the talent in the world. You know, great body, great genes. But I had no work ethic and I had no discipline. The better you get, the harder you have to work. The better I got, the lazier I got.”
At the time of his interview with the Chicago Tribune, Rashaan Salaam ran a Saturday camp for mentoring young athletes in San Diego. He also left some quality advice for future NFL players, expressing the need to “work on your game.”
— NFL by WordLink (@NFLbyWordLink) December 7, 2016
Rashaan claimed that he did not realize how much he had to work after getting into the NFL.
“It’s a whole different lifestyle. You have to change the way you live. You have to change who you hang out with. You have to totally get focused on your game. You have the athletic ability, but if you don’t put the work behind it, nothing will come from it.”
Even though Rashaan Salaam passed away, the quality advice and words of wisdom he offered over the years to the people he inspired will more than likely last in their minds for many years to come.
[Featured Image by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images]