Florida high school football star hit by train in suicide was under pressure, uncle says

Bryce Gowdy, 17, who died days before he was to have enrolled at Georgia Tech on a football scholarship, had been taking care of his mother and siblings, his uncle said.
Image: Bryce Gowdy
Bryce Gowdy wearing a cap announcing his intention to play football at Georgia Tech in Atlanta.via NBC Miami

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By Minyvonne Burke

A 17-year-old Florida high school football star who died by suicide had been under pressure and was taking care of his mother and siblings, his uncle said Wednesday.

The teen, Bryce Gowdy, was killed when he was struck by a freight train shortly after 4 a.m. Monday in Deerfield Beach, about 17 miles north of Fort Lauderdale, the Broward County Sheriff's Office said. The medical examiner's office on Tuesday ruled the death a suicide, according to ESPN.

Bryce was just days away from enrolling at Georgia Tech in Atlanta on a football scholarship when he died, according to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel of Fort Lauderdale. The young student athlete, however, was struggling with leaving his family, who were homeless and staying in a hotel, the newspaper reported.

Thomas Gowdy, Bryce's uncle, said in a telephone interview on Wednesday that his nephew was the head of the household.

"There was neglect from one side [of the family] and too much responsibility from the other side," he said.

Thomas Gowdy said the family was hurt by Bryce's passing. "You could never see this coming, no matter how much you know the person," he said.

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Georgia Tech's head football coach, Geoff Collins, said in a tweet Monday that he was heartbroken.

"Bryce was an outstanding young man with a very bright future," Collins said in a statement attached to the tweet. "He was a great friend to many, including many of our current and incoming team members. On behalf of our coaches, players, staff and families, we offer our deepest condolences to Bryce's mother, Shibbon, and his brothers, Brisai and Brayden, as well as the rest of his family members, his teammates and coaches at Deerfield Beach High School, and his many friends."

Thomas Gowdy said he wanted Bryce to be remembered as a "light in everyone's life that he came into contact with."

"He was a smart kid who was ahead of his time. He was observant, because he loved to learn just like he loved to read. He was taught to be kind and humble," his uncle said.

A GoFundMe page set up to help with funeral costs had already exceeded its goal of $50,000. As of Wednesday afternoon, more than 1,000 people had donated over $64,000.

If you or someone you know is in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255, text HOME to 741741 or visit SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources for additional resources.