- Jake Trotter, ESPN Staff Writer
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ENID, Okla. – Friends and family of Austin Box continue to find ways to remember him.
Saturday, more than 100 volunteers gathered at 10th and Chestnut in Enid, Okla., to help build “Champions Park,” a playground in honor of Box, the former Oklahoma linebacker who passed away from a prescription medication overdose in 2011.
“Austin was loved by so many,” said his sister, Whitney Box, who is also the director of strategic and long-range planning for the city, and designed the park. “It’s gratifying to see this all come together.”
The park won’t officially open until the ribbon-cutting ceremony on May 19, which will be the two-year anniversary of Box’s death. On Saturday, most of the park’s infrastructure was built thanks to the help of several volunteers, including former Sooners baseball player Tyson Seng and Oklahoma State quarterback Clint Chelf, who both attended Enid High with Box.
Members from the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control were also on hand. Whitney Box said her family, as well as the Austin Box Foundation, has plans to work with the bureau beginning this year on getting the word out about the dangers of prescription drug use.
“It’s becoming an epidemic; it’s been an epidemic,” said a special agent of the bureau who asked that his name to not be used because he works undercover. “With Austin, he’s not a classic example of someone you would expect to die from a prescription drug overdose.
“Kids don’t realize how dangerous prescription drugs can be. We want to raise awareness that this is something that can put your life in danger.”
The Centers for Disease Control rank Oklahoma as one of the top states for both prescription painkiller sales and drug overdose death rates. Prescription drugs cause more than 80 percent of drug-related deaths in Oklahoma.