Saturday, April 9, 2016

Former KU running back Brandon Bourbon found dead

Kansas running back Brandon Bourbon catches a pass during warmups prior to kickoff against Oklahoma on Saturday, Oct. 19, 2013 at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas running back Brandon Bourbon catches a pass during warmups prior to kickoff against Oklahoma on Saturday, Oct. 19, 2013 at Memorial Stadium.


The six-day search for missing former Kansas University football player Brandon Bourbon ended in tragedy on Friday.

According to the Maries County Sherriff’s Office, the body of Brandon Kyle Bourbon, 24, was found around 2 p.m. Friday, when a farmer discovered Bourbon’s silver minivan roughly 80 miles from his hometown of Potosi, Mo., on a secluded plot of land off Route AA, just north of Vienna, Mo.

Authorities officially ruled Bourbon’s death a suicide and the news sent shockwaves of grief and heartache to friends, former teammates, family members and the hometown of the former KU running back, who was last seen last Saturday night.

KU coach David Beaty, who was on the Kansas staff for one season (2011) during Bourbon’s five-year career with the Jayhawks, issued the following statement Friday night: “Our hearts are broken to hear the news of the passing of Brandon Bourbon. Brandon was a wonderful teammate and friend. He was a tireless worker both on the field and in the classroom and was a constant source of inspiration within our program. The entire Jayhawk family cared very deeply for him and he will always be in our hearts.”

Added associate head coach Clint Bowen: “I will always remember Brandon as a great teammate with a contagious personality. He affected so many with his positive attitude on a daily basis. We were all fortunate to have had the opportunity to have him in our lives.”

Bourbon, the former four-star prospect and one-time Stanford commit who battled through an injury-plagued KU career with a smile, finished his playing career at Washburn University in Topeka, where he was voted a team captain.

During his one season with Washburn, Bourbon rumbled to 937 yards and four touchdowns on 219 carries in 11 games while earning Washburn’s co-offensive MVP honors.

Said WU head coach Craig Schurig: “We are saddened to hear of Brandon’s passing. In one season as an Ichabod, he made an immediate impact with the team... He was a joy to be around and to coach.”

At Kansas, Bourbon finished his career with 304 yards and 5 touchdowns on 92 carries while missing all of his freshman and final seasons because of injury.

At Class 3A Potosi High, Bourbon set the school record with 5,551 yards, which included a single-game mark of 451 rushing yards, which ranked as the fifth best outing in state history. The two-time all-state selection also set the school record in the 100-meter dash (10.4 seconds).

Prior to his disappearance, Bourbon had sounded excited and optimistic about the infant stages of his work toward starting an athletic training business to help young athletes prepare for the jump from high school to college.

Former KU coach Charlie Weis, who coached Bourbon from 2012-14, reached out earlier this week to inquire about Bourbon’s well being and offered his thoughts late Friday night.

“Awful news,” Weis wrote in a text message to the Journal-World. “My prayers go out to the Bourbon family and all of Brandon’s friends. Tragic.”


Len Shaffer 6 years, 5 months ago

Oh wow, that is such a shock and so sad. My thoughts are with Brandon's family and friends.

Chris Bailey 6 years, 5 months ago

I'm in complete and utter shock. There are no words to describe the sadness his family, teamates, coaches and friends are most definitely dealing with after this tragic news. I wish to offer my condolences to all who knew him and all the lives he touched. Life is so precious and we often lose sight of that with our differences. This wil take a while to sink in completely. If we had only known. What a great young man amd it was a honor for us to have him as a Jayhawk. Rest easy sir. Until we all meet again.

Austin Lopez 6 years, 5 months ago

Rest Up, No one deserves to lose there life at such a young age....

Don Johnson 6 years, 5 months ago

I am truly sorry for Brandon's family and all those he touched while at KU, Washburn, and his community. This makes me wonder if this is another example of football concussions leading to personality changes and suicidal thoughts or actions. Maybe this is like Junior Seau at San Diego. It is a question that should be asked.

Michael Lorraine 6 years, 5 months ago

Thought the same thing although 24 seems very young. Those who have taken their lives are typically older.

Very sad. My heart aches for the family.

Joe Ross 6 years, 5 months ago

heart wrenching news. incomprehensible loss in pure human terms, and outside of that more sad news for kansas football. prayers for the family

Harlan Hobbs 6 years, 5 months ago

My previous comment didn't get posted for some reason. Anyway, compliments to all of you for your wonderful messages of sympathy. What marvelous hearts you all have.

I can only second what you all have said, and yes, Don, we need to explore these issues in the memory of Brandon and Junior. I doubt that the physical aspects of football played a significant factor in this, but it should not be ignored.

Brett McCabe 6 years, 5 months ago

Ben Heeney has started a Go Fund Me for the family. FYI.

Bryce Landon 6 years, 5 months ago

Count me among thousands of brokenhearted Jayhawk fans who are stunned by this tragic end. RIP, Mr. Bourbon. :,(

Randy Bombardier 6 years, 5 months ago

Shocked and saddened for family, teammate and other friends. Dedicate a game to him?

Humpy Helsel 6 years, 5 months ago

Very few people, because of long standing media policy, realize there are 3 times as many suicides in this country than homicides. They are only publicized due to fears of contagion in cases of murder/suicide (ironic), suicide in a public place (e.g. jumping out of a high rise onto the street), or if it is a publicly known figure. Because of these media practices the numbers and frequency of suicides are generally unknown. If you suspect someone might be contemplating, "ask the question." Google QPR, Question, Persuade, Refer. About 60% of suicides are from firearms. If you have guns, use trigger locks or lock them up in a secure firearm safe. If you suspect someone in your home is at risk, get all firearms and medications out of the home during the distressed period. Sorry to divert, but this stuff is important and preventable.

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