Rashaan Salaam, a onetime Heisman trophy winner and Chicago Bears running back, was found dead at a park in Colorado Monday (Dec. 5). He was 42.
Salaam’s body was reportedly discovered by a passerby who called police at around 8:45 p.m. Monday night. The former pro-athlete was pronounced dead on the scene.
Details surrounding his passing are scarce, however, according to Colorado’s Daily Camera the death is being looked at as a suicide.
While it is unclear if Salaam’s body was found inside or outside of a vehicle, Boulder police spokeswoman Shannon Cordingly said that no foul play was suspected. An autopsy and investigation into his death are ongoing.
“The Buff Family has lost an outstanding young man and a great Buff today,” CU Athletic Director Rick George said in a statement. “We are heartbroken for Rashaan and his family and our thoughts and prayers are with them at this very difficult time.”
Salaam, a native of San Diego, was the son of ex-Cincinnati Bengals running back, Teddy Washington. As a player at the University of Colorado, Salaam held one of the best individual seasons in the history of college football with a record of rushing for 2,055 yards. He also became the fourth college football player to rush more than 2,000 yards in a single season, and remains the youngest player in NFL history to rush for 1,000 yards.
“He was very coachable,” Salaam’s coach, Bill McCartney, said in a statement. “He had a happy heart. I loved being around him. He didn’t take himself too seriously, and he always credited those around him, especially his offensive line. What I liked about him is that he had a sparkle in his eye. He was upbeat and positive.”
Salaam won the Heisman trophy in 1994, and was drafted in the first round by the Chicago Bears as a 21st overall pick in 1995. Throughout his athletic career, he played for the Bears, Cleveland Browns, Green Bay Packers, and the San Francisco 49ers, in addition to joining the XFL, before ending his professional run with the Toronto Argonauts in 2004.
Check below for tributes to Salaam from Warren Sapp, Eddie George and more.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to Rashaan Salaam’s family, friends, and former teammates. pic.twitter.com/iF5bRIWKJk
— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) December 6, 2016
My Heart is saddened to hear of the passing of my Heisman Brother Rashaan Salaam, May he Rest In Peace in his presence. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family,friends and the @cubuffs family.
A photo posted by eddiegeorge2727 (@eddiegeorge2727) on
Can’t believe the news that my G, Rashaan Salaam is Gone.
— Warren Sapp (@WarrenSapp) December 6, 2016
Prayers for the Salaam family. Watching Rashaan play from my house in Corona California made me want to be a Buffalo! RIP to a great Buff!!!
— Darrin Chiaverini (@CoachChev6) December 6, 2016
**Update: Salaam’s death has been ruled a suicide, the Boulder County coroner’s office revealed Thursday (Dec. 30). An autopsy report concluded that the former pro-athlete shot himself in the head, and had a blood alcohol level of 0.25. He reportedly had marijuana in his system as well.
According to a relative, Salaam suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). His family, however, did not allow the post-mortem test that would confirm that he suffered from the disease, which is brought on by repeated head trauma.