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.