The tragic passing of Austin Box has taken another heartbreaking turn, with the parents of the Oklahoma linebacker releasing details of the state medical examiner’s report into their son’s death.
According to the state toxicology report, there were five different painkillers in Box’s system at the time of his death. The specific painkillers found by the medical examiner were not noted in media accounts of the toxicology report.
In an emotional interview with the Daily Oklahoman that’s a must-read — and a Kleenex or two is a must-have if you must read it — Box’s parents, the paper writes, “seriously doubt long-term addiction, and they do not believe for a moment that it was suicide.” Craig and Gail Box are also unaware of “any painkillers prescribed to him by a doctor at the time of his death.”
Box was found unresponsive by a friend on May 19 and was unable to be revived. The initial police report noted that the friend thought Box had overdosed, with the friend also telling the 911 dispatcher prior to the arrival of police and emergency medical personnel that Box “takes pain pills”.
In addition to the newspaper interview, the grief-stricken parents also released a statement regarding their son and the report into his death. And, again, make sure there’s a tissue or two within arm’s reach if you read it all the way through to the end:
There is no greater pain than the loss of a child. The pain is intensified by knowing that the death of your child could have been prevented. Austin was a young man who carried the weight of the world on his shoulders. He was grateful for his many talents, and felt he must always live up to his gifts. Two words he spoke often say so much, “Of course”. It did not matter who was asking, whether it be a fan asking for an autograph, or simply a stranger wanting to talk — the response was a smile and “Of course.” His greatest fear was letting down other people whether it was his teammates, coaches, friends, or family. In his twenty-two years of life, he never thought to complain because he felt he had been given so much.
Our son endured many injuries during the last seven years of his life, most of them required surgery. The last was the most frightening for him. In August of the 2010 season, he had a disc rupture in his back, and he lost the feeling in his left foot. We were certain his career was over. As always though, he battled back when he saw the team needed him. Willing his battered body back to the field where only the most elite do battle. It is with much sadness; we look back and see that recently Austin had turned to other methods of managing his pain. Methods that we hope if others are employing, they will see this tragic accident as a message and think about the consequences. Our greatest regret is that Austin did not feel he could share his pain with those who loved him, and those he touched. He chose to suffer in silence rather than to feel he let someone down, or hurt his family.
We will forever love, honor, and cherish his memory. Thank you to all of those who have shared stories about how Austin touched your lives in a positive way. We are comforted by the knowledge that God knows what is in a man’s heart. Anyone that knew Austin would give testament to his pure heart. The love and pride we feel for our son cannot be diminished by the cause of his death. He gave us so much joy and so many wonderful memories. He will forever be “Mommy’s baby” and “Daddy’s little boy”.
With much grief and sadness,
Craig and Gail Box