ARLINGTON TX - DECEMBER 04: Linebacker Austin Box #12 of the Oklahoma Sooners celebrates a 23-20 win against the Nebraska Cornhuskers during the Big 12 Championship at Cowboys Stadium on December 4 2010 in Arlington Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Prescription Painkillers Cited In Death Of Oklahoma's Austin Box

Starting Oklahoma linebacker Austin Box died at 22 after ingesting a lethal combination of five prescription painkillers.

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Austin Box Death Blamed On 'Mixed Drug Toxicity'

Seven weeks after the death of starting Oklahoma linebacker Austin Box, his family has released a report of the state medical examiner's toxicology test results to the media. Five prescription painkillers (oxymorphone, morphine, hydrocodone, hydromorphone and oxycodone) were found in Box's system at the time of his death, according to the findings received by The Oklahoman. The dots between Box's frequent football injuries and his overdose are connected in the detailed cause of death: 

The probable cause of death was identified as "pulmonary edema and aspiration pneumonia" due to central nervous system depression probably caused by "mixed drug toxicity." It listed cardiomegaly (an enlarged heart) and chronic pain history as other significant medical conditions.

The Box family issued a heart-wrenching statement to the press in advance of the release of the toxicology report that reads, in part:

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.

Our sincere condolences to the Box family and the Oklahoma football community. Austin is being remembered today at SB Nation's Crimson and Cream Machine.


Austin Box Cause Of Death A Probable Overdose, According To Police

While a medical says no official cause of death is likely to be announced in the Austin Box case before Friday, emerging details indicate the Oklahoma starting middle linebacker's death could be drug-related. 

CBS' Brett McMurphy has confirmed with El Reno police that the death was a "probable overdose," and the police report obtained by Oklahoma City NBC affiliate KFOR would seem to bear that out. "Controlled dangerous substances" are mentioned in the category section of the report, and the officer's report indicates that when police arrived on the scene, Box was being given CPR by John Cobble III, identified by KFOR's Scott Hines as the son of Box's former high school coach. The officer goes on to state that "Cobble told me when I entered the room Box was in he believed he had overdosed." Hines also reports that narcotics were seized from the house.

Stay tuned to this StoryStream and to Crimson And Cream Machine for more details on this story as they become available.


Oklahoma Officials Release Statements On Death Of Austin Box

Bob Stoops is reportedly out of the country on vacation this week, but other Oklahoma University officials have already released brief statements of condolence on the death of Sooners middle linebacker Austin Box, who passed away Thursday at the age of 22. Via The Oklahoman, here's university president David L. Boren:

The University family is deeply saddened by the tragic death of student-athlete Austin Box. Our hearts go out to his family and friends.

And from Sooners athletic director Joe Castiglione:

Austin Box will be greatly missed by his many friends and teammates in the Athletics Department and all across campus. Grief counseling is being made available to members of the team and his close friends.

SB Nation's Oklahoma blog, Crimson And Cream Machine, calls this a "Tragic, tragic day for the Oklahoma football program and the entire Sooner Nation."

Stay tuned to this StoryStream and to Crimson And Cream Machine for more details on this story as they become available.

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