Frisco, Texas police officers found former NFL running back Marion Barber III dead on June 1 following a welfare check stemming from a reported water leak on the premises. Today, local authorities are categorizing the 38-year-old’s cause of death as “heat stroke.”
Barber, who passed away less than two weeks before his birthday, hadn’t played in the NFL since 2011 with the Chicago Bears. The running back played most of his career with the Dallas Cowboys – originally a fourth-round pick in 2005.
The Collin County Medical Examiner’s Office ruled Marion Barber III’s tragic passing as an accident on Monday. Authorities didn’t find signs of struggle upon finding Barber in June. Officers say neighbors reported the leak, spurring the well-being check.
In the coroner’s findings, additional details indicate Barber III’s apartment thermostat read 91° with the furnace turned on. The 38-year-old had a documented history of exercising in “sauna-like conditions”.
When questioned about his client’s mental and physical health shortly after his death, Barber’s attorney says the ex-running back displayed “no signs of trouble.”
Barber’s Passing Reflects Tragic Offseason of Death In Young Athletes
After a month of speculation, an autopsy revealed the cause of former Baltimore Ravens linebacker Jaylon Ferguson’s passing. The report detailed the discovery of fentanyl and cocaine in the 26-year-old’s body at the time of death. Previously, Ferguson’s fiancée pled with intrusive fans to not participate in harmful speculation. However, the results confirmed the family’s worst fears.
In April, former Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Dwayne Haskins died after a vehicle hit the 24-year-old on the side of a Florida highway. An autopsy confirmed the presence of ketamine and norktamine with a .24 BAC.
Unlike the tragic passings of Haskins and Ferguson, Barber’s death is non-narcotic related. However, in the same vein, each death represents the tragic loss of young life far too familiar in modern athletics.
The December death of former Denver Broncos wide receiver Demaryius Thomas brought the discussion of CTE back to the forefront of league talking points. An emotional plea from free agent receiver Dez Bryant asks players experiencing symptoms to speak up. Bryant also implores the league to provide better care for retired players.
Barber’s fatal mistake is nothing short of tragic. And news of a healthy, athletic individual passing at a young age always sends a shock through our systems.