Austin Box's Parents Speak Out Two Years After Son's Death

Austin Box was a young man who seemed to have it all. He was living his dream as a middle linebacker for the Oklahoma Sooners.

He graduated from OU in may of 2011 as a junior. Then one week later - just three months before his senior season - this 911 call went out.


There's a guy.. ahh... who stayed with me last night and he's not responding to me. He takes pain pills and he's not responding to me.

911 Operator:

Is he.. Is he breathing?


I don't think so.

Austin Box was dead. He was only 22 years old. An autopsy found a deadly mix of five painkillers and an anti-anxiety drug in his system. The probable cause of death was ruled to be mixed drug toxicity.

Almost two years later, Austin's parents are speaking out about their son and the dangers of prescription drugs.

Craig Box, Austin's dad, warned parents really need to understand how prevalent the problem is. "You know, I think there's a perception that it's not something that's a street drug. That you commonly hear it's OK," he said.

Austin's mom Gail Box believes education is key. "Not so they will use them, but to know the danger of combining prescription drugs - in Austin's case - lead to his death," she said.

The game of football Austin loved so much took its toll on his body. As a high school All-American in Enid, he had back problems and a dislocated elbow. As a Sooner he missed 12 games in his three year career with more back and elbow issues and two knee surgeries. And his family said he suffered in silence.

Craig said, "I don't know how he did it. He never outwardly showed any type of depression or being down. He always just fought and was going to get back."

But Austin was Sooner born and Sooner bred. From an early age, he dreamed of playing at OU. It's a dream that came true when Bob Stoops offered him a scholarship. You can see that dream is still alive in his bedroom with all of his trophies and mementos from his playing career. That's a comfort to his mom. "To go in and be there be surrounded with his things. All the memories that he gave us.. He packed a lifetime in his short 22 years," she said.

As much as they're comforted by his room, they say the hurt never goes away. Craig said, "It's the first thing you wake up in the morning you think about and it's the last thing you think about when you go to bed. It literally crosses your mind every minute of every day."

Austin's family has established the Austin Box 12 Foundation to educate people - especially teenagers and parents - about the dangers of prescription drug abuse. They hope their actions now can stop another family from feeling the pain they still do - two years later.