Jamaican music producer and former Olympic team member, Sam Clayton Jr. died at the age of 58 from coronavirus, The New York Times reports. Clayton was a member of the Jamaican bobsled team that competed in the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, Canada.
Since the team was from a tropical nation, they were seen as a huge underdog in the winter sport, and their story inspired the hit 1993 Disney film "Cool Runnings." Clayton was not part of the four-man team that ultimately competed in Calgary, but former teammate Devon Harris told local outlets in Jamaica that Clayton was important to the team and called his death a "punch to the gut."
"Although he never made the Olympic team Sammy was an integral part of the Jamaica bobsled team," Harris said. "He was among the very first four selected to spearhead Jamaica's entrance into Winter sports and the Winter Olympics."
Clayton was not only an athlete, but a music producer and sound engineer at Harry J. Studio in Kingston, Jamaica, according to the Times.
He worked as a sound engineer with several bands, including Steel Pulse. David R. Hinds, the frontman of the British band, confirmed Clayton's death to the New York Times. Clayton died from coronavirus on March 31 in Kingston, Hinds said in an email. CBS News has reached out to Steel Pulse for details. Clayton is survived by his wife and four children, the Times reports.
On April 2, Hinds posted a tribute to Clayton on the Steel Pulse Facebook page, in which he also confirmed Clayton died from COVID-19. The "passing of my bredren and working partner, Sam Clayton Jr.," was a "real bitter pill to swallow," Hinds wrote.
"It was only 16 months ago that we attended the funeral of Sam Clayton Senior, another remarkable individual.... And now this," Hinds' post continues. "Sam Jr. will be missed terribly by all that knew him, primarily because, a man that is so upright, fair, honest, eager to work under any challenges or conditions, and possess an arsenal of talent, is a very hard commodity to find in this industry of ours, today."
Hinds described Clayton as a "jack of all trades," but most importantly, "a sincere friend who had a solution to practically any problem that came into play."
Hinds said he was shocked and that Clayton's last words to him at an event in Ghana still echoed in his mind: "I'm going to Jamaica to record and I don't want to miss my flight."
"We were totally oblivious to the fact of seeing him in flesh, for the last time," Hinds wrote.