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Brandon Vaughn Burlsworth was an American football player known for his stint with the Arkansas Razorbacks between 1995 and 1998. He was a unique talent who fed the appetite of spectators before his sudden death at a young age. And even though death cut short his successful career, the athlete lives on through the commemoration of his life and achievements via the Brandon Burlsworth Foundation (which stands as a symbol of his professional standards in football, his religious beliefs and geared towards helping children with little or no opportunities) built by the football community, his family and friends.
What killed Brandon Burlsworth? Read the full story below.
Brandon Burlsworth’s Biography
Brandon Burlsworth was born on September 20, 1976, in Harrison, Arkansas, to Leo and Barbara Burlsworth. He attended the Harrison High School where he was an all-state selection. Upon graduation, he received numerous scholarship offers from smaller universities who saw great potentials in him but he turned them down and chose the University of Arkansas instead. At the school, he was serious-minded and didn’t joke with his classes despite being active in sports. He graduated from the University of Arkansas with both a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree. In addition to his degrees, he was rated first Razorback football player to complete a master’s degree during his time.
Family: Parents, Siblings
Brandon didn’t have a perfect home. Shortly after his birth, his parents divorced so, he, alongside his siblings Grady and Marty, had to move in with their mother. Without a father figure in his life, his older brother, Marty ultimately took over the role. For this reason, Marty was mostly mistaken for Brandon’s father, especially considering he was 16 years older than him and loved him the way a father loves his son. Marty also expressed his genuine brotherly love for Brandon with the way he supported his dream. He helped him in realizing this dream even when it meant bringing a basket of baseballs to the park so Brandon could work on his hitting and pitching.
As chubby as he was as a child, his brother gave him the necessary push he needed to excel in sports, knowing that he had natural skills in football. After several attempts and transforming his chubby physique into a muscular body through relentless exercise, Brandon Burlsworth got drafted as a walk-on. It was a disappointing position for him but he wanted to be in the Razorback team. Regardless, he played in a high spirit that surprised both his fans and family who constantly watched his games. As time passed, he climbed from a walk-on to become a top player. His light was so bright that it seemed nothing could stop him, from excelling. However, something terrible cut short his glory; death.
Only eleven days after his exciting pick, at the time he could finally reap the rewards of everything he put into the game, in an unfortunate accident that occurred close to Alpena, Arkansas on April 28, 1999, Burlsworth lost his life. Apparently, he was on his way back to his hometown Harrison after a workout in Fayetteville when the sad incident occurred.
It was a terrible day for his family, team, town, and the state. It felt like something precious was taken away from people who loved him. To demonstrate the weight of the blow his death caused his team and school, his funeral was held at the high school gym because it provided enough space for his Razorbacks team and all who was there to support his family. His body was later laid to rest at the Gass Cemetery in Omaha, Arkansas, on May 2, 1999.
In the midst of all the sadness, the comfort is that the high record he had set as a top-notch student, a fiercely competitive athlete and a devout Christian still live on. His legacy wins to this day.
As a way of immortalizing Burlsworth, the Arkansas Razorbacks retired his jersey and enwrapped his locker in glass for public display. They also joined his family and friends to establish the Brandon Burlsworth Foundation in honor of the fallen star. The foundation allegedly symbolizes his ethics and values, and it is geared towards helping needy children by providing them with physical, as well as spiritual support – something Brandon was known for.