Former Football Player Loses Battle With Depression

Brandon Hensley

Joshua Daniel Nesbitt, a former football standout at Burbank High School and Glendale College, died Nov. 4 from a self-inflicted gunshot wound at the Firing-Line indoor shooting range in Burbank. He was 21.

A native of Frederick, Md., Nesbitt graduated from Burbank High in 2006, where he was captain of the football team. As a linebacker, he collected All-Foothill league and All-Area honors. He was also the recipient of the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame Inc. Scholar Athlete Award as a senior.

He came to Glendale College that fall after being recruited by then head Coach John Cicuto, now men’s athletic director, and played for one-and-a-half seasons as a Vaquero.

Current head Coach John Rome, who was an assistant then, described Nesbitt as a “real good football player. Very instinctive,” and said that he “seemed to be a man of good character. [He] was always cheerful, happy.”

Earlier this year, Nesbitt began to show signs of being bipolar, and in August was diagnosed with “Schizoaffective disorder of the bipolar sort,” according to his father, Craig. The disorder can cause mood swings and disillusion.

In September, Nesbitt was admitted to a mental hospital in Florida, where his father lives. It is there where the family believes he was overmedicated, and as a result he became “extremely depressed,” Craig said. “He couldn’t get any relief.”

After his release in October, Nesbitt came back to California. “I thought he was getting better, I really thought he was,” said his mother, Michele. Nesbitt enjoyed shooting guns, and he went with Michele to the gun range for target practice. The family could not have foreseen that Nesbitt would turn the gun on himself.

“He really enjoyed shooting,” said Craig. “We don’t know if it was [premeditated] or when he got there he had a moment of weakness.”

Nesbitt died on the scene, according to the Burbank Police press release.

In its story about Nesbitt earlier this week, the Glendale News Press detailed the Burank Firing-Line’s history of accidents, including a 64-year-old man who shot himself to death in June, and a 25-year-old man who did the same with a rented handgun last year.

The Firing-Line would not comment for this story.

“My brother was a big teddy bear,” said Nesbitt’s older brother, Nathan. “His favorite thing to do was connect people, play football . I’m his oldest brother, but he’s my hero.”

Nathan described his brother as a person who brought people together, on and off the football field. He said Josh would “always hit people like a speeding train,” but that he was the first to offer a hand to help them up.

“The game was important to him, but the people were more important to him,” he said.
“He was a very positive, enthusiastic, upbeat person,” said Craig. “It was amazing what he could do prior to this illness.”

Nathan said he and his brother loved to quote movies together, and told one of his favorites from the movie “First Knight.”
“It was: ‘Brother to brother, yours in life and death,'” he said. “We would always say that when we saw each other.”

Nesbitt is survived by his father, Craig; mother, Michele; brothers Nathan, Justin, Troy and Craig Jr.; and sister Noelle. He also had a stepmother, Yvonne Nesbitt; and four step-siblings Ryan Burger, Casie Burger, Erick and Whitney Burger.

A public service for Nesbitt was held on Sunday at Media City Church, and a private burial was held on Tuesday. The family is requesting donations for the service by calling (323) 769-7372, or to contact Media City Church at (818) 842-2186.