The Former Notre Dame Fighting Irish running back George Atkinson died Tuesday at the age of 27. No cause of death has been released yet and Atkinson’s passing comes almost one year after his twin brother Josh committed suicide, and a little over a year since they lost their mother to complications from Crohn’s disease.

Atkinson had still been struggling two months ago when he wrote an open letter on The Unsealed website mentioning his battle with mental health and trying to get over the death of his brother. He went into great detail about his life and events he had to overcome during his childhood. He wrote that his mother suffered from schizophrenia leading to drug abuse, and how Josh and him had to call the police when his mother became violent towards them.

Atkinson goes on to reveal that he relied on Josh when times got tough but neither of them ever showed vulnerability. “For me and my twin brother Josh, each other was really all we had. Through the years we grew closer and closer. But neither of us were ever taught to talk about our feelings. For me, I felt like I had to be this tough guy and show no emotion,” said Atkinson. Both brothers moved in with their father when they were teenagers, but they still had an emotional past that was hard to get over.

Atkinson wrote about his experience on Christmas Eve in 2018 when he found his brother “drunk and upset, on the verge of driving to the bridge and doing something stupid.” Josh told Atkinson that he was felt guilty about taking their mother off life support.  Initially Atkinson was able to calm him down but the next day Josh committed suicide.


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Atkinson was then institutionalized after trying to hurt himself following Josh’s death. He confessed, “That’s the moment I felt like I lost everything. That’s the moment I can’t describe. I never want you to feel his pain or my pain.”


The Atkinson twins were the son of Super Bowl Champion safety George Atkinson II who played with the Raiders from 1968-1977. The Atkinson twins both played for Notre Dame in 2011. George III played two seasons in the NFL with the Cleveland Browns and Oakland Raiders.


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