Howard McCowan, a former USC football player whose promising career was cut off when he went to prison for robbery and kidnapping, has died at High Desert State Prison in Susanville, Calif.
McCowan, 34, was found unconscious in his cell during a routine check, said prison spokesman Dennis Gunter. The cause of death was under investigation by the Lassen County coroner.
McCowan, a standout player at Carson High School, was a starting safety for USC when he and teammate Marcel Brown robbed several pedestrians in Westwood in 1991.
Last month, McCowan was featured in a Times story on the USC football team that won the 1990 Rose Bowl.
He served seven years in prison and re-enrolled at USC after his release.
But in 2001, on the verge of completing his degree, he robbed a Los Angeles liquor store. That crime, added to his previous offenses, made him a three-strikes felon, and he was imprisoned for life.