DeKalb grad's death believed to be result of hazing

Updated:

Robert Champion

DECATUR, Ga.,None - A Florida sheriff said late Tuesday he believes the death of a DeKalb county college student is the direct result of hazing.

Robert Champion was a student at Florida A & M, plus a high stepping leader on the field for Florida A & M's Marching 100. Since his death, the school's president has suspended all practices and performances for the band.

"I think we need to stop and give ourselves the opportunity to find out the facts," said Florida A & M president James Ammons.

Ammons announced he is forming a task force to look into whether there have been ongoing inappropriate band customs and traditions. The school has had problems with hazing in the past.

Champion's life came to a tragic end Saturday, the same day he performed at the Florida Classic.  Deputies said the 26-year-old from Decatur complained of trouble breathing before being found unresponsive on a bus.
His friends performed CPR and called 911 his father said, but he would later be pronounced dead in an Orlando hospital.

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"He did what he wanted to do and he reached the plateau that he wanted to be. He always wanted to be in the band," said Champion's father, also Robert.

"I think he was in pretty good condition. He ate and he trained and had no medical condition that I know of," Champion said.

Channel 2's Carl Willis asked the father on Sunday if he suspected any wrongdoing.

"No, I don't," Champions responded.

Instead, the father said he's just reeling from hearing the heartbreaking news.

"I think a parent shouldn't have to plan a funeral, bury their child and it was a hard thing to take," Champion said.

Besides the outpouring of condolences on Champion's Facebook page are pictures of him in his drum major uniform. A high honor that he earned after five years in the band.

There are also pictures of Champion from his time in the band at Southwest DeKalb High School.

His father said this is a loss for the community. He hopes detectives will be able to shed light on this sudden loss.

"I do want to know what happened because that would give me more understanding something like this I can accept knowing what happened," Champion said.