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Former USC safety Kevin Ellison dies; surrounding circumstances are unclear

Former USC safety Kevin Ellison dies; surrounding circumstances are unclear
Kevin Ellison (4) is shown on the sidelines at practice with cornerback Vincent Joseph. (Alexander Gallardo / Los Angeles Times)

Former USC safety Kevin Ellison died Thursday. He was 31.

The school confirmed Ellison’s passing in a social media post Saturday with a simple hashtag: “#FightOnForever.”

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Chris Ellison said his brother was walking along the 5 Freeway in the San Fernando Valley at the time of his death.

“He was disoriented and didn’t know where he was at,” Chris Ellison said. “I’m sure he was trying to come home and find his family. We love him so much.”

Records from the Los Angeles County coroner’s office show Kevin Ellison died on a freeway. No cause of death was listed. An exam is pending.

The Inglewood native, who played for the Trojans from 2005 to 2008, was a two-time All-Pac-10 selection known for delivering hard hits. The San Diego Chargers drafted him in the sixth round in 2009. He played nine games for the team, then briefly joined the offseason roster for the Seattle Seahawks in 2010.

“Kevin was liked and loved by everybody,” Chris Ellison said. “His smile and personality would light up a room.”

Kevin Ellison faced federal arson charges in 2012 while playing for the Arena Football League's Spokane Shock after he caused $50,000 in damage by setting his bed on fire at the Big Trout Lodge in Liberty Lake, Wash. According to court records, Ellison said God told him to set the fire.

The case was eventually dismissed after Ellison was ordered to pay more than $80,000 in restitution.

Chris Ellison said his brother struggled with mental health issues in recent years.

“My mom and sister and dad and brother did everything they could,” Chris Ellison said.

Kevin Ellison's LinkedIn page listed his occupation as a coach working as a strength and conditioning director.

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