Derek Carr remembers George Atkinson III: ‘Always there…always full of life…always joyful’

Raiders' Carr on death of George Atkinson III: 'It just shows you don't really know what people are going through'

Oakland Raiders running back George Atkinson III (34), a former Granada High School player, runs for a first down in the fourth quarter of their preseason NFL game against the Seattle Seahawks at O.co Coliseum in Oakland, Calif., on Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014. The Oakland Raiders went on to win the game 41-31. (Doug Duran/Bay Area News Group)
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ALAMEDA — Roster turnover being what it is, there aren’t a lot of Raiders who were teammates of George Atkinson III, who died Tuesday at age 27.

George III, whose father George is a former Raiders safety, was battling depression after the death of his twin brother Josh less than a year earlier. Although no cause of death was reported when Josh passed away on Christmas Day in 2018, George III said in an open letter to “The Unsealed” his brother had taken his own life. Following that life trauma, George III said in that letter he at one point was put on an involuntary psychiatric hold for fear he’d harm himself.

The family has released no details in the death of George III.

Raiders quarterback Derek Carr, who was a teammate of Atkinson, took a moment to remember him Wednesday following practice.

“Great teammate. Any time we did anything outside the building, George was there,” Carr said. “Him and his brother, we would play basketball at 24-Hour Fitness together. We’d send group text and start playing and he was always there. Always full of life. Always joyful.”

George III was signed by the Raiders as an undrafted free agent in 2014 and played in three exhibition seasons. He spent time on the Raiders practice squad in 2014 and 2015 and was active on the 53-man roster in 2014, returning seven kickoffs with an 18.1 average in five games.

With the Cleveland Browns in 2016, Atkinson rushed for 34 yards on seven carries. He later returned to the Raiders in 2017 but was cut before the regular season. He also spent off-season time with Kansas City and the New York Jets.

Carr said the death of George III is a reminder of how much people don’t know about each other in day-to-day relationships.

“I guess it just really shows you don’t know what people are going through,” Carr said. “It makes you really alert and aware to want to check on your friends. Check on ’em to really do life with them. Get inside their heart and let them know they have a place to talk to somebody. You never want to lose somebody, especially with what their family has been through the last couple of years.”

George III said in his open letter that Josh had been struggling with the death of their mother, who battled mental illness and drug abuse. The twins were sent to live with their father George at age 13 and starred in football and track at Granada High in Livermore before earning athletic scholarships to Notre Dame.

George Atkinson, 72, is a close friend of Raiders’ owner Mark Davis and is often at the club facility. Carr said all the Raiders can do is support him.

“It’s unbearable, right?” Carr said. “I have children now, so I don’t want to imagine it. No one even wants to think about that. The only thing you can do is be there for him. Put your arm around him, let him know, ‘Hey, we love you, man. You’re going to be OK.’

“Try and encourage him and uplift him as much as you can because lord knows he’s going to need it.”


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