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Florida A&M Band Hazing Death: Robert Champion agreed to initiation ritual, bandmates say

The FAMU Marching 100, from Florida A&M University performs during the halftime show of Super Bowl XLI football game at Dolphin Stadium in Miami on Sunday, Feb. 4, 2007. AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian

(CBS/AP) ORLANDO, Fla. - Florida A&M drum major Robert Champion, who died after being hazed on a bus, was known for his opposition to hazing but agreed to go through the initiation ritual because it was seen as an honor, according to bandmates' interviews released on Wednesday.

Pictures: Florida A&M hazing case

Champion asked all season to go through the hazing ritual, known as "crossing over," defendant Jonathan Boyce said.

The 26-year-old died last November after enduring a brutal hazing ritual on a bus outside a hotel in Orlando, where FAMU played against its archrival in football. Prosecutors are releasing more than 15,000 pages of evidence against the 13 people charged in connection to Champion's death. Eleven defendants are charged with third-degree felonies and two are charged with misdemeanors.

Champion's parents said their son was a vocal opponent of the routine hazing of the famed band, which has performed at Super Bowls and presidential inauguration parades. His father, Robert Champion, Sr., said in an interview earlier this year that his son's opposition made him a target.

Drum major Keon Hollis told detectives Champion went through the hazing ritual after him the night Champion died. He said there were at least 15 band members on the bus who performed the ritual.

Champion seemed fine immediately after and Hollis said he gave Champion some water when he said he was thirsty. Champion soon collapsed and later died.

An autopsy report concluded Champion suffered blunt trauma blows to his body and died from shock caused by severe bleeding.

FAMU's "Marching 100" band was suspended shortly after the incident, and officials announced it will remain sidelined through the 2012-2013 school year.

Complete coverage of the Florida A&M hazing case on Crimesider

  • Crimesider Staff

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