Marion Barber III, a former NFL running back who made the Pro Bowl in 2007 with the Dallas Cowboys, was found dead Wednesday by police in Frisco, Texas. He was 38.
The team confirmed his death, but no cause was reported for the former University of Minnesota star, who would have turned 39 next week. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported from sources that authorities did a welfare check on Barber’s apartment after a water leak was reported, and police found his body there after forcing their way inside.
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“Frisco Police responded to a welfare concern at an apartment believed to be leased by Marion Barber,” police spokesperson Joshua Lovell told the paper. “Frisco Police along with the Collin County Medical Examiner’s Office are investigating an unattended death at the location.”
The Cowboys, which drafted Barber in 2005 and was his team for the first six of his seven NFL seasons, said in a statement: “We are heartbroken by the tragic death of Marion Barber III. Marion was an old-school, hard-nosed football player who ran with the will to win every down. He had a passion for the game and love for his coaches and teammates. Our hearts go out to Marion’s family and friends during this difficult time.”
His rough-and-tumble running style earned Barber the nickname “Marion the Barbarian.” He finished his career with 59 touchdowns and 4,780 rushing yards, wrapping his career with the Chicago Bears after the 2011 season. He made the Pro Bowl in 2007, his third year in the league, when he had 975 yards and 10 touchdowns, often specializing in red-zone carries — which made him a favorite of fantasy football players. His 47 rushing TDs ranks fourth on the team’s all-time list among running backs.
Barber was born on June 10, 1983, in Plymouth, MN, the son of former New York Jets running back Marion Barber. He posted back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons for the Minnesota Golden Gophers in 2003-04, combining for 28 TDs in those two years. The Big 10 team won bowl games both years.
After his playing days, Barber had some run-ins with law enforcement, including a 2019 arrest. He was given a mental health evaluation after being detained by police in 2014.
He is survived by his father and brothers Dominique, a former NFL safety, and Thomas, who also played at the University of Minnesota.
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