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TheRootDC
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Posted at 03:41 PM ET, 01/10/2012

FAMU drum major’s stance against hazing may have led to death


Robert Champion, a drum major in Florida A&M University's Marching 100 band, performs during halftime of a football game in Orlando, Fla. (Joseph Brown III - AP)
Robert Champion Jr., the Florida A&M University band member who was beaten to death in November, may have been targeted because of his outspoken anti-hazing stance, according to his parents.

The family’s attorney Christopher Chestnut called Champion "the poster child of anti-hazing. He threatened the very institution of hazing in this band.”

Also, during the investigation into his death, his family discovered that the 26-year-old drum major was gay, but it is unclear whether that had anything to do with his death.

The Champions plan on suing Fabulous Coach Lines, the bus company that owns the bus on where Champion was allegedly hazed, according to the Associated Press.

Champion was found unresponsive in a parking lot after the team’s game with Bethune-Cookman on Nov. 19. After vomiting and complaining of shortness of breath, he died at the hospital and his death was ruled a suicide.

His death highlighted a serious problem of hazing at the university and band director, Julian White, has been suspended with no more band performances scheduled. There have been other cases of violent hazing rituals at FAMU, but none as severe as this.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s active involvement in trying to suspend the school’s president, James Ammons, also put the school’s accreditation in jeopardy.

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By Fahima Haque  |  03:41 PM ET, 01/10/2012

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