FAMU Drum Major Dies, 26 PDF Print E-mail
By Clarece Polke -- Black College Wire   

Florida A&M student and drum major Robert Champion died suddenly after performing in the last football game of the season.

The 26-year-old male was unconscious when the Orange County (Orlando,Fla.) Sheriff’s Office and paramedics arrived on the scene, and was found on a student bus.

He was then transported to Dr. Phillips Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

The Famuan
Robert Champion
No foul play is suspected, according to Deputy Ginette Rodriguez, public information officer for OCSO. However, circumstances surrounding Champion’s death are still being investigated.

After the game, the band returned to the Rosen Plaza Hotel where they were lodging when the victim reportedly vomited in the parking lot and started to complain about not being able to breathe.

Those on the scene called 911 and administered CPR. He was transported to the hospital where he was pronounced dead.  The victim's mother was contacted notified of Champion's death by university officials.

"We are in shock," said Julian White, FAMU’s director of bands and chairman of the department of music. "He was a very fine drum major who was of excellent character and very trustworthy. I had not told him yet, but he was slated to be the head drum major next year."

Champion, a music student from Atlanta, served as one of six drum majors for the 375-member Marching "100" band who traveled to Orlando for the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida Classic. A drum major since spring 2010, Champion had performed in the Classic's half-time show earlier in the day.

Sorrow continues to loom throughout the university community and among others who knew Champion.

"Robert was an extraordinary guy and was very determined to be a leader,” said Ronald Sandridge, a former clarinet player in the band who said Champion was his section leader and drum major. “When I found out, I was in shock, disbelief."

Sandridge heard the news while visiting Orlando for the game.  

"I had just seen him performing on Saturday and before the band left on Friday. I wished him luck, before we departed," he said.

A memorial is scheduled at FAMU’s Lee Hall auditorium on Nov. 22 at 6 p.m.

 Click here to see the updated story.

Clarece Polke is the editor-in-chief of The Famuan, the Florida A&M University student newspaper, which originally published this article.

Posted Nov. 22, 2011
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