Former NFL running back Marion Barber has died at age 38, as police in Frisco, Texas, found his body in an apartment following a wellness check. Barber was a star running back for the Dallas Cowboys in the 2000s. A cause of death has not been announced.
Barber’s life after football was one of struggle, marked by concerns about his mental health and encounters with police in the Dallas metro area. Those mourning him include his former teammate Dez Bryant, who said last summer that he couldn’t enjoy watching archival highlights of Barber’s playing days, knowing the troubles he faced after his NFL career.
“RIP Marion Barber may God rest your soul,” Bryant said on Twitter. In a video, he urged athletes to look out for themselves, noting the deaths of former NFL players such as Demaryius Thomas and Vincent Jackson — who, like Barber, died in their 30s.
Frisco police were called to an apartment they believe Barber was leasing, a department representative told NPR. After officers entered, they found Barber’s body. An investigation into “an unattended death at the location” is now under way, in conjunction with the coroner’s office.
During his career, Barber’s ferocious running style made him a fan favorite, and his coaches often called on him to finish scoring drives, fighting his way through defenders and into the end zone.
In 2007, his third season, Barber led the Cowboys with 10 touchdowns and earned a spot in the Pro Bowl, despite not being named a starter for a single game. In the Cowboys’ record books, only three players have scored more than Barber’s 47 rushing touchdowns.
The team released a statement saying it’s heartbroken by Barber’s death.
“Marion was an old-school, hard-nosed football player who ran with the will to win every down,” it said. “He had a passion for the game and love for his coaches and teammates. Our hearts go out to Marion’s family and friends during this difficult time.”
Barber played seven seasons in the NFL, including six with the Cowboys, who drafted him in the fourth round in 2005, and one with the Chicago Bears. He retired after the 2011 season.