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Coroner: Heisman Trophy winner Rashaan Salaam committed suicide

DENVER, Dec 29 (Reuters) - Rashaan Salaam, a winner of college football's Heisman Trophy, committed suicide by shooting himself in the head in a park in Boulder, Colorado, earlier this month, a county coroner said on Thursday.

A toxicology report showed Salaam, 42, had a blood-alcohol level of 0.25, three times the legal limit for operating a vehicle in Colorado. His blood also contained 55 nanograms of THC, the psychoactive property of marijuana.

"The decedent reportedly has a history of depression; and recent life stressors," the report noted. The report did not specify what stressors Salaam experienced.

A passerby found Salaam's body on Dec. 5, Boulder police said. Salaam, who had played for the Chicago Bears and the Cleveland Browns, lived in Superior, Colorado, just southeast of Boulder.

13 PHOTOS
Rashaan Salaam's career
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Rashaan Salaam's career
FEB 9 1992; Special to the Denver Post, John Epperson Auths. -- San Diego High school football player Rashaam Salaam during a game earlier this year. 1992; Salaam, Rashaan (Photo By The Denver Post via Getty Images)
30 OCT 1993: COLORADO RUNNING BACK RASHAAN SALLAM CARRIES THE BALL DURING THE BUFFALOES 21-17 LOSS TO THE NEBRASKA CORNHUSKERS AT FOLSOM FIELD IN BOULDER, CO. Mandatory Credit: Tim Defrisco/ALLSPORT
Colorado tailback Rashaan Salaam, stands with the Heisman Trophy, College Football's highest award, at the Downtown Athletic Club in New York December 10 after being named the outstanding college football player oF1994
2 JAN 1995: COLORADO''S RASHAAN SALAAM #19 TRIES TO TURN THE CORNER AGAINST THE NOTRE DAME DEFENSE DURING THE THIRD QUARTER OF THE FIESTA BOWL AT SUN DEVIL STADIUM IN TEMPE, ARIZONA. Mandatory Credit: Otto Greule/ALLSPORT
8 Oct 1995: Running back Rashaan Salaam of the Chicago Bears looks on during a game against the Carolina Panthers at Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois. The Bears won the game, 31-27. Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Daniel /Allsport
8 Oct 1995: Running back Rashaan Salaam #31 celebrates with teammate wide receiver Curtis Conway during the Bears 31-27 win over the Carolina Panthers at Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois. Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Daniel/Allsport
1996: Running back Rashaan Salaam #31 of the Chicago Bears poses for a 1996 photo. (Photo by Andy Hayt/Getty Images)
Chicago Bears running back Rashaan Salaam running past Green Bay Packers safety LeRoy Butler during a game on October 6, 1996 in Chicago. Green Bay won the game 37-6. (Photo by Albert Dickson/Sporting News via Getty Images)
22 Aug 1997: Running back Rashaan Salaam of the Chicago Bears looks on during a pre-season game against the New Orleans Saints at Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois. The Saints won the game 13-7.
1 Sep 1997: Running back Rashaan Salaam #31 of the Chicago Bears tries to run around Brian Williams #51 of the Green Bay Packers during the Bears 38-24 loss at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Daniel /Allsport
KANSAS CITY, MO - AUGUST 9: The Kansas City Chiefs defense brings down running back Rashaan Salaam #21 of the San Francisco 49ers at Arrowhead Stadium on August 9, 2003 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. The 49ers defeated the Chiefs 24-6. (Photo by Dave Kaup/Getty Images)
(L-R) NFL player Rashaan Salaam and guest arrive on the red carpet at the 17th annual ESPY Awards held at Nokia Theatre LA Live on July 15, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. The 17th annual ESPYs will air on Sunday, July 19 at 9PM ET on ESPN. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage)
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Salaam won the Heisman Trophy, college football's highest honor, as a University of Colorado running back in 1994, becoming the only player from that school to do so. A California native, he was the son of another NFL player, former Cincinnati Bengals running back Teddy Washington.

The Chicago Bears chose him in the first round of the 1995 NFL draft, and he also played for the Cleveland Browns in a career lasting four seasons.

Salaam's brother, Jabali Alaji, told USA Today this month that Salaam suffered from depression and had symptoms associated with football head trauma, including memory loss and vision problems.

The family declined to have the coroner perform additional tests that would indicate whether Salaam suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). The report said the autopsy would be performed in accordance with the religious preferences of Salaam and his next of kin. Salaam was Muslim.

CTE, a progressive degenerative disease of the brain seen in athletes and others with histories of repetitive brain trauma, has been discovered during autopsies on several former National Football League players.

The University of Colorado said its football team will honor Salaam with a helmet decal displaying his initials and numerals 19, his number during his time playing for the school, when they play Oklahoma State in Thursday's Alamo Bowl in San Antonio.


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