Former Clemson Tigers football running back C.J. Fuller died from a pulmonary thromboembolism and deep vein thrombosis connected to a football-related knee injury, according to a report made public Tuesday by the Pickens County Coroner’s Office, the Greenville News reported.
Fuller died on Oct. 3. Moments before he died, the former 247Sports Composite three-star recruit had chest pain in the midst of a physical therapy session, Fuller’s aunt, Zola Fuller Beeks, told the Greenville News in an interview after his death.
“When a blood clot gets caught in one of the arteries that go from the heart to the lungs, it’s called a pulmonary embolism (PE),” according to WebMD. “The clot blocks the normal flow of blood. This blockage can cause serious problems, like damage to your lungs and low oxygen levels in your blood. The lack of oxygen can harm other organs in your body, too. If the clot is big or the artery is clogged by many smaller clots, a pulmonary embolism can be fatal.
“Pulmonary embolisms usually travel to the lungs from a deep vein in the legs. Doctors call this “deep vein thrombosis (DVT).””
Fuller began the 2017 season as Clemson’s starting running back, but he elected to transfer last February after getting surpassed on the depth chart by Tavien Feaster and Travis Etienne during the season. He finished the year with 217 yards and three touchdowns.
Last March, Fuller and two others, including former Clemson defensive back Jadar Johnson, were arrested after they robbed someone at gunpoint. They were still awaiting trial for that crime.
Co-offensive coordinator/running backs coach Tony Elliott spoke to the media back in the spring following Fuller’s arrest.
“I know it’s a tough time for him and his family,” Elliot said. “I’ve definitely got a lot of prayers going up for him. He also knows that he’s been around me long enough to know that you’re going to be held accountable for your actions. I’m trying not to rush to any conclusions, I just want to give him his due process and the one thing I did tell him, I said, ‘Look, man. I love you regardless. I know there will be sometimes you do some things where I don’t like you, but I’m always going to love you and this situation is not going to determine that. But you’ve got to face the consequences and if you’re involved in it, then you take it like a man, hopefully move forward and get better from it.”
Perhaps Fuller’s most important play in a Clemson uniform was a 20-yard kick return to the Tigers’ 32-yard line, which set up Clemson’s game-winning drive in the 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship against the Alabama Crimson Tide. Tigers quarterback Deshaun Watson hit wide receiver Hunter Renfrow for the decisive score with just one second remaining in the game.
Fuller signed with Clemson out of Easley High School (Easley, S.C.) in 2014 and redshirted his freshman season. The 22-year old earned a degree from Clemson this past August.
“Our thoughts, prayers and deepest sympathies are with C.J.’s family,” Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said in a statement after Fuller’s death. “I’ve known C.J. a long time and watched him grow up through the Easley rec leagues all the way through Easley High School.
“I’m proud of what he accomplished as a Clemson Tiger, most of all, his accomplishment of being a Clemson graduate. Our deepest condolences and the thoughts of our program are with his family this evening. May he rest in peace.”