Former USC safety Kevin Ellison dies at 31

Former safety Kevin Ellison played at USC from 2005-2008. (Getty)
Former safety Kevin Ellison played at USC from 2005-2008. (Getty)

USC announced Saturday that former safety Kevin Ellison died earlier in the week. He was 31.

Ellison played at USC from 2005-2008. His started as a sophomore in 2006 and as a junior in 2007, combining for over 120 tackles in those two seasons. He had 43 tackles in eight games in a 2008 senior season that was plagued by a knee injury.

Chris Ellison said his brother was walking along a freeway in the San Fernando Valley at the time of his death.

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“He was disoriented and didn’t know where he was at,” Chris Ellison told the Los Angeles Times. “I’m sure he was trying to come home and find his family. We love him so much.”

No cause of death was listed.

USC was 46-6 in Ellison’s time with the team.


Ellison was drafted in the sixth round of the 2009 NFL draft by the San Diego Chargers. He played in nine games that season and had 50 total tackles. That was his only NFL season.

In 2012 Ellison was charged with arson while he was playing for the Spokane Shock in the Arena Football League. Ellison lived in an apartment and allegedly set his bed on fire with a marijuana cigar. He was cut from the team after his arrest and was ordered by a judge to undergo a mental health evaluation.

From the Spokesman-Review in 2012:

Kevin Marcus Ellison, 25, who was dismissed from the Spokane Shock arena football team after his arrest June 14, repeatedly claimed to be Jesus Christ, including to an elderly woman who was at the hospital when Ellison was treated for smoke inhalation, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Aine Ahmed.

“He may have some mental issues,” Ahmed said.

Ellison also told Shock general manager Ryan Rigmaiden “that he was Jesus Christ, and that he was part of the rapture, and that God told him to start the fire,” Ahmed said. “He did not believe it (the fire) was going to harm him because God told him he’d protect him.”

Ellison told Rigmaiden he started the fire with a marijuana blunt.


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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.

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