ALAMEDA, Calif. — Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr opened his weekly media conference by eulogizing former teammate George Atkinson III, who died Monday, three days after turning 27.

“It’s crazy how quick life can come at you, and I love George,” Carr said Wednesday. “We had a lot of fun playing basketball at 24 Hour Fitness, as well as playing football games together and competing together. He was always so joyful, man. So happy every single time. It felt like he was cut and re-signed a whole bunch of times, and every single time, he just looked so thankful to be here. So I just wanted to say that we’re thinking about him and his family that we love.”

Atkinson was the son of former Raiders strong safety George Atkinson, a two-time Pro Bowler who played for Oakland from 1968 to 1977 and had 30 interceptions, and he appeared in five games with the Raiders in 2014, returning seven kickoffs for 134 yards.

An undrafted running back from Notre Dame, George Atkinson III also played for the Cleveland Browns in 2016.

His twin brother, Josh, who also played for the Fighting Irish, died last December, and Atkinson recently wrote an open letter describing his rough upbringing with their mother, who he said had paranoid schizophrenia and drug addiction and died in October 2018. He also wrote that his brother killed himself, about his own struggle with mental health and how he had tried to harm himself before, and about his father entering their lives when he and his brother were 13 and instilling discipline.

“Like you, I am still struggling,” Atkinson wrote. “My mother’s birthday just passed and I know the holidays this year won’t be easy. But I am trying to take life one day at a time.”

It has been a rough year for the Raiders as many former players, coaches and family members have died since last December: Josh Atkinson, Warren Wells, Duane Benson, Cedrick Hardman, Ron Sabal, Clem Daniels, Dan Conners, Bob Zeman, Gunther Cunningham, Cliff Branch, Willie Brown and George Atkinson III.

“I heard about what he wrote, obviously, but I would have never guessed that he was struggling that hard,” Carr said of Atkinson. “I know things had happened in the year prior and things like that make you hurt, but every time I was around George, I never thought that he was hurting that much, to be honest. Every time I was around him he was full of happiness, full of joy, always joking.”


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