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Former CU star and Heisman trophy winner Rashaan Salaam committed suicide, coroner says

Posted: 8:31 AM, Dec 29, 2016
Updated: 2016-12-30 00:43:57-05
Coroner: CU football star committed suicide
Coroner: CU football star committed suicide

BOULDER, Colo. -- Former University of Colorado Boulder football star and Heisman trophy winner Rashaan Salaam took his own life, the Boulder County Coroner confirmed Thursday.

Salaam was found dead Dec. 5 in the parking lot of Eben G. Fine Park in Boulder. Salaam was 42.

A friend of Salaam's, Riley Hawkins, told the Denver Post that Salaam seemed to be suffering from manic depression.

“He had become more of a recluse,” Hawkins said. “That’s when the demons took over.”

Jabali Alaji, Salaam’s brother, told USA Today , that Salaam had "all the symptoms" associated with chronic football head trauma including, depression, anxiety, apathy and memory loss.

Salaam was a standout running back who won the Heisman Trophy in 1994 as a junior. He skipped his senior year of college and entered the NFL draft, where he was selected in the first round by the Chicago Bears.

Salaam would play for the Bears from 1995 through 1997. In his first year he became the youngest player in the NFL to rush for 1,000 yards.

After leaving the Bears, Salaam played for the Cleveland Browns and the Green Bay Packers until 1999.

Back in Colorado, Salaam maintained a foundation called the Spin Foundation. He said his goal for the foundation was assisting children in the Colorado area achieve success. 

Salaam held fundraisers, camps and clinics as he attempted to help children avoid some of the mistakes he made while accomplishing their own goals.

When the CU Buffs play the Alamo Bowl Thursday night in San Antonio, they will honor Salaam by wearing a decal on their helmets that has a RS and 19, Salaam's number.

If you, or someone you know, is in crisis or just needs someone to talk to, resources are available through Colorado Crisis Services 24 hours a day. Call 1-844-493-TALK (8255) or text TALK to 38255 to speak with a trained professional.

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