Ex-NFLer dies at 36: Damion Cook Dies

Published: June 27, 2015

Ex-NFLer dies at 36: Damion Cook Dies, Bruce Cummings, Cook’s assistant football coach at Atholton, confirmed that Cook died at his home on Friday morning after returning from a road trip to visit his parents in Florida.

Cook played 26 games in the NFL with the Baltimore Ravens, Cleveland Browns and Detroit Lions as a tackle from 2002 to 2008.

A Nashville native, Cook played at Bethune Cookman in Daytona Beach, Fla., and led the Wildcats to a 1998 Heritage Bowl victory. He was signed by the Ravens as an undrafted free agent in 2001. Cook had a memorable appearance in the HBO documentary series, Hard Knocks, when he impersonated Ray Lewis during the Ravens rookie skit.

He made his NFL debut with the Ravens in 2002, playing in 13 games with Baltimore over the next three seasons before catching on with the Cleveland Browns. He started six games at guard for Cleveland in 2004, then after a four-year hiatus, started four games for the Detroit Lions in 2008.

Cook also logged time in the Canadian Football League, the Arena Football League and the United Football League before becoming a strength and conditioning coach in Michigan from 2011 to 2013.

In the summer of 2013, Cook became a mental health counselor at the Homewood School in Ellicott City, which led to the Atholton football head coaching position. After winning only one game in 2013, Cook led the Raiders to a 3-7 record in 2014 and was beloved by his players and fellow coaches.

“Damion was someone who genuinely cared about student athletes. He wanted to use football as a tool to help at-risk youth,” said Cummings, who met Cook two years ago when both were assistant coaches at Centennial, and hopes to continue leading the Atholton program in Cook’s memory. “We’re going to take that message and let his spirit guide us.”

In the wake of the news, the Atholton athletics community shared its grief on Twitter.

“I’ve never met a more kind hearted and funny person in my life,” tweeted girls basketball player Chelsea Mitchell. “Gave me so much knowledge You will truly be missed Love you #RipCoachCook.”

Having played the game at its highest level allowed Cook to keep things in perspective when coaching high school, he said.


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