SAN DIEGO - Former La Jolla Country Day graduate and 1994 Heisman Trophy winner Rashaan Salaam was found dead Monday night in a park in Boulder, Colorado.
He was 42. Boulder police said there were no signs of foul play.
According to USA Today, police told Salaam's family that they may have found a suicide note.
“They said they found a note and would share that with us when we get there,” said Salaam’s mother, USA Today reported. She said the family hopes to bury him in Boulder because “he liked it there and was successful there, and he liked the people there.”
Salaam, who played for Colorado University, was a runaway winner in the 1994 Heisman voting after rushing for 2,055 yards to become just the fourth player in college football history at the time to surpass the 2,000-yard mark. He won the Heisman by 248 votes and 842 points and was also a landslide winner in the voting for the Doak Walker Award, given to the nation’s top running back.
“This is a sad day for the entire university community as we mourn Rashaan’s death,” CU Chancellor Philip P. DiStefano said. “Rashaan will be remembered as one of the greatest football players to ever wear a Buffs uniform, and his 1994 Heisman Trophy brought great prestige and honor to the university. We send our deepest condolences to his family and friends.”
CU grad and current ESPN analyst Chris Fowler hosted the Heisman ceremony when Salaam won the award.
“Like all Buffs everywhere, I am filled with sadness at the news of Rashaan’s passing,” Fowler said Tuesday. “The night in December, 1994, when Rashaan was presented the Heisman Trophy, is certainly one of CU’s finest moments ever. He was a deeply proud and loyal Buff and Heisman fraternity brother. Being there to share in his joy as the host of that program for the very first time will always remain a cherished memory.
“I will miss those hugs and his big smiles. And I will always think of Rashaan, dressed in black and gold, charging down the sideline on the way to his 2000 yards.”
Salaam, who played eight-man football in high school at La Jolla Country Day, was one of the nation’s most-prized recruits out of high school in 1992. He lead the football team to three CIF championships and the track team to four CIF championships. Salaam was honored in both All-League and All-State football and track teams.
"Rashaan epitomized the true scholar, artist and athlete while at LJCDS. In addition to being an outstanding athlete, he also sang in the chorus, performed in musicals, and was a student of character," LJCDS spokeswoman Tiffany Tran said.
“We lost a great Torrey today,” said Kevin Reaume, LJCDS PE teacher and varsity track and field coach who coached Rashaan in football and track. “He was a standout athlete who was proud to the wear the Torrey uniform. I was honored to have coached such a gifted young man who was inspirational in building the legacy of Torrey athletics.”
“I remember when we officially signed him, we had a lot of high-fives around the coaching staff offices because we knew this kid was really special,” CU coach Bill McCartney said. “He projected to be a tremendous can’t-miss player coming out of high school. He was big and strong, fast and tough. He was very gifted, very athletic and very competitive.”
Salaam announced his decision to turn pro after CU’s Fiesta Bowl win and he became a first-round draft choice of the Chicago Bears (21st overall). He played three seasons for the Bears, winning NFC Rookie of the Year hono
rs in 1995, when he ran for 1,074 yards and 10 touchdowns.
He finished with career numbers of 1,682 yards rushing, 120 yards receiving and 14 touchdowns for the Bears. He also played briefly with Cleveland and Green Bay in 1999, but was hampered by knee and ankle injuries for much of his pro career.
Salaam most recently lived in Superior. His father, Harold “Teddy” Washington — now Sultan Salaam — played freshman football for Colorado in 1963 before transferring to San Diego State to be closer to home.