CU Heisman winner Rashaan Salaam found dead in Boulder park; revolver found next to body

Posted at 1:23 PM, Dec 06, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-06 21:15:10-05

BOULDER, Colo. -- Officials located body of the only winner of the Heisman Trophy Award to have attended the University of Colorado Monday in a Boulder park. 

Authorities confirmed they located 42-year-old Rashaan Salaam's body Monday night in the parking lot of Eben G. Fine Park. 

A bystander found Salaam's body just before 9 p.m. and called for police assistance. The Boulder County Coroner's Office confirmed the investigation is open. 

Police dispatch recordings from Monday night say Salaam was found unconscious on the ground next to his vehicle just before 9 p.m. There was a revolver laying next to his body and his vehicle was still running.

An autopsy is planned, however Boulder Police Department officials confirmed foul play is not suspected.

“It's quite often the case that people have demons that they only keep to themselves,” said CU Athletics spokesman Dave Plati. “We haven't found anybody that we've talked to today that thought he was struggling with anything other than normal things that you would struggle with but nothing that would have led to this.”

Salaam in football 

Rashaan Salaam was a standout running back who won the first and only Heisman Trophy Award for the Colorado Buffaloes in 1994 as a junior. 

The running back had football -- and the ground game -- in his blood. His father Teddy Washington, as he was known before his conversion to Islam, was a running back for the Cincinnati Bengals.

After winning the Heisman in 1994, Salaam skipped his senior year of college and entered the NFL draft, where he was selected in the first round by the Chicago Bears.

Salaam would play for the Bears from 1995 through 1997. In his first year he became the youngest player in the NFL to rush for 1,000 yards.

Due to problems on and off the field -- including marijuana use, which is now legal in Colorado, but banned in the league -- the Bears would relieve him of his duties. He would go on to play for the Cleveland Browns and the Green Bay Packers.

Salaam would attempt to continue his career in football, both in other leagues and in the NFL, but he would never appear in another NFL game after the 1999 season.

An enduring legacy

Rashaam Salaam has maintained a foundation called the Spin Foundation. He's said his goal for the foundation is assisting children in the Colorado area achieve success. 

Salaam held fundraisers, camps and clinics and more as he attempted to help children avoid some of the mistakes he made while accomplishing their own goals. 

"Life can present many obstacles and difficult decisions at any age, but especially as a young person," Salaam penned on his website. 

Salaam said he wanted all people to live by 10 rules, which he called Cowboy Ethics.

  1. Live each day with courage
  2. Take pride in your work
  3. Always finish what you start
  4. Do what has to be done
  5. Be tough, but fair
  6. When you make a promise, keep it
  7. Ride for the brand 
  8. Talk less and say more
  9. Remember that some things aren't for sale
  10. Know where to draw the line

Remembering Salaam

CU Buffaloes Athletic Director Rick George announced in a release his overwhelming sadness at the loss of Salaam.

"The Buff Family has lost an outstanding young man and a great Buff today," George said. "We are heartbroken for Rashaan and his family and our thoughts and prayers are with them at this very difficult time."

Sports Information Director David Plati had reportedly become one of Salaam's closest friends. 

"I am speechless. I've stayed in constant touch with Rashaan since he left CU. You develop a special bond with players you escort to the Heisman ceremonies," Plati said. "We're minus one true Buffalo today." 


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