Cedric Benson, one of the greatest running backs in the history of the University of Texas who went on to have an eight-year NFL career, was killed Saturday night in a motorcycle crash. He was just 36 years old.
Police in Austin, Tex. responded to an accident involving a motorcycle a man and woman on it and a minivan around 10:30 PM CDT, said Marcos Johnson, a spokesman for the Austin Police Department.
The minivan was pulling away from a stop sign at the time of the accident. Both the motorcycle and minivan burst into flames. The woman on the motorcycle died immediately. The man was conscious and alert when responders pulled him away from the wreck but succumbed several minutes later, said Johnson.
Two adult passengers in the minivan were taken to a local hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
Austin police did not release the names of the victims and officials at the Travis County Medical Examiner’s office were not available for comment Sunday. However, Benson’s death was confirmed by members of his family in an interview with the Austin American-Statesman and by social media posts from friends, former teammates, and the University of Texas.
Hours before the crash, Benson posted a photo of a motorcycle on his Instagram account with the caption “My Saturday evening” surrounded by hearts.
Cedric Myron Benson was born Dec. 28, 1982 in Midland, Tex. Benson attended Midland’s Robert E. Lee High School, where he led his team to three consecutive state championships. His 8,423 rushing yards were the fourth-most in Texas high school football history at the conclusion of his high school career (1997-2000). Benson is currently ranked seventh.
Benson was also a center fielder on the baseball team, hitting .361 with four home runs and 14 RBIs in his senior season. As a result, he was drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 12th round (370th overall) of the 2001 MLB Draft. He played nine games for the Gulf Coast League Dodgers in 2002.
The gridiron was Benson’s first love and he took his talents to Austin. He was a four-year (2001-04) starter for the Longhorns where he racked up 5,540 rushing yards in 1,112 attempts (5.0 yards per attempt) and 64 touchdowns. He was the recipient of the Doak Walker Award recognizing him as the nation’s top running back and named a consensus All-American in his senior year.
Benson is the only running back in Longhorns history to rush for at least 1,000 yards in each of his four seasons. At the conclusion of his Longhorns career, Benson ranked sixth all-time in Division I-A history in yards and seventh in touchdowns. Currently, he is 10th in yards and ninth in touchdowns.
Benson is second to only Ricky Williams for the most yards and touchdowns by a Longhorns running back. He was often compared to Williams because of size, build, running style, locked hair, and the fact they both played minor league baseball.
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Benson was selected by the Chicago Bears in the first round (fourth overall) of the 2005 NFL Draft, the Bears’ highest drafted player since Hall of Fame defensive tackle Dan Hampton was taken fourth overall in 1979. He spent a tumultuous three seasons (2005-07) in Chicago before moving on the Cincinnati Bengals (2008-11). He had his greatest professional moment when he rushed for a Bengals franchise playoff record 169 yards and a touchdown on 21 attempts in a Wild Card loss to the New York Jets after the 2009 season. He finished his NFL career with the Green Bay Packers (2012).
In eight seasons, Benson rushed for 6,017 yards on 1,600 attempts and 32 touchdowns. He also caught 120 passes for 833 yards and a touchdown.
Benson had numerous run-ins with the law over the years. He faced charges of driving while intoxicated in 2008 and 2017 that were eventually dismissed. He pled guilty to a lesser charge in the 2017 incident this past Thursday. Benson was also charged with criminal trespassing in 2003 and faced assault charges as well.
Sam Bassett, Benson’s lawyer, acknowledged his client was “imperfect in some respects”, but also that “once Cedric was your friend, you understood how kind, sensitive, and loyal he was as a man”. Former Texas head coach Mack Brown, now at the University of North Carolina, took to Twitter to remember Benson.
Saddened by the reports on the passing of Cedric Benson. We’ve coached a lot of tough players but none were tougher than Cedric. He was a true spirit. Our thoughts and prayers are with his friends and family on this sad day. pic.twitter.com/6afR0AFiJW
— Mack Brown (@CoachMackBrown) August 18, 2019
Current Longhorns head coach Tom Herman also remembered Benson.
Head Coach Tom Herman issued this statement regarding the passing of Cedric Benson. pic.twitter.com/mwulGcnaNw
— Texas Football (@TexasFootball) August 18, 2019