Augustus “Gus” Lee, a football player at the University of Richmond and a 2017 graduate of Paul VI Catholic High School, died Tuesday, the college announced. He was 20.
The Virginia Office of the Chief Medical Examiner reported the cause of death was suicide by asphyxiation.
“We are deeply saddened by the loss of Augustus Lee,” Richmond Coach Russ Huesman said in a statement. “Gus was a terrific young man and a great member of our Richmond family. His loss is a true tragedy to those who knew and loved him. Our thoughts and prayers are with Gus' family. This is a very difficult time for everyone in the Richmond Spider family.”
Lee was a redshirt freshman defensive back and kick returner for the Spiders. At Paul VI, he was a Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association all-state wide receiver his senior year. He also played lacrosse and ran track.
“He loved being a part of a team,” former Paul VI football Coach Joe Sebastian said of Lee. “He was very driven but in a good way. He wanted to be part of good things, positive things. You could see that when he was playing for Richmond.”
“He was a typical Paul VI kid,” the high school’s athletic director, Billy Emerson, said, noting the superlative kindness and work ethic he associates with the school’s student athletes. “You watch these kids over four years and you watch them grow up and it’s really sad he is no longer with us.”
Richmond President Ronald A. Crutcher said in a statement he had been in contact with Lee’s parents to express the university’s condolences. He called Lee, an undeclared pre-business major, “a good friend.”
Lee walked on to the football team at Richmond after considering Delaware and Cornell, according to Sebastian. He appeared in all 11 of Richmond’s games after sitting out the 2017 season, and he was named the MVP of the Spiders' 2018 spring game.
Word reached Paul VI in the morning that Lee was missing and Richmond authorities were concerned for his safety, Sebastian said. Just before class let out in the afternoon, students and faculty learned Lee was deceased.
As knowledge spread, Emerson started fielding calls and text messages from Lee’s former classmates expressing their grief and asking about the situation.
Paul VI held a special religious service after school and is planning a school Mass on Wednesday.
“A lot of people are going to need help and luckily we have the community to support that,” he said. “The bottom line is, it just hurts.”
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