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NCAA Champion, Son of Olympians and Godson to Carl Lewis, Cameron Burrell Dead at 26

Cameron Burrell was one of the fastest men in the world, but he couldn’t outrace his personal demons.

Friday the Harris County Institute of Forensic Science confirmed in its report that the former University of Houston sprinter’s death at the age of 26 has been ruled a suicide. It was a sad final chapter to an extraordinary life that was filled with promise, potential and prestige from beginning to end.

Photo Courtesy University of Houston 
“On Monday evening, our family’s hearts were broken with the passing of our son, Cameron, who took his own life,” said Cameron’s father Leroy Burrell in a statement following the revelation. “While much of the world knows Cameron from his accomplishments in competition, he was so much more as a son, a father, a brother and as a man. We love him, and we will miss him forever.”

Cameron followed his father, a gold medalist in the Barcelona Olympics in the 4x100 along with his wife Michelle who was part of the winning women’s 4x100 team, to the University of Houston where the elder Burrell had run in college and has coached for 23 years. 

Under his guidance and that of his godfather, nine-time Olympic gold medalist Carl Lewis, Cameron broke his dad’s school record, set five years before his birth, in the 100 meters by .01 seconds with a time of 9.93 in 2017. He was a three-time All-American at 60 and 100 meters and was twice named All-American as a member of the 4x100 relay team. 

Burrell was also a member of the United States 4x100-meter relay team, helping it earn gold at the World Junior Championships in 2012 and capture silver at the 2019 World Relays. At the 2018 Athletics World Cup he anchored the U.S. relay team to gold. With such a prestigious resume it was hard for his family, friends and supporters to come to terms with his cause of death.

“We may never know why Cameron made such a decision,” Leroy continued, urging people who may be struggling in their lives to reach out for help. “You are not alone, and you are surrounded by more people who love and care for you than you may think in a dark moment.”

Cameron’s aunt Dawn Burrell, who represented the United States in the long jump at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, seconded the emotion adding a passionate plea on Instagram calling in part for people to, “Please check on your strong family members that you view as kings. They might be struggling internally more than you realize.”

In addition to his parents, Burrell is survived by his brothers, Joshua and Jaden Burrell. For those having struggles with their mental health, The National Suicide Prevention Hotline is available 24 hours at 1-800-273-8255 or you can online chat through the Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The American Suicide Prevention Hotline is also available at 888-333-2377.


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