A brilliant 29-year-old Olympic fencer and former Queens resident who struggled with schizophrenia was discovered dead in her California apartment, according to reports.
Kamara James, who grew up in Jamaica and was the sole woman to represent the U.S. in fencing in the 2004 Olympics in Athens, was found in her Modesto, Calif., flat on Sept. 20, People.com reported.
The cause of death was not immediately clear, but it did not appear to be suspicious or a suicide, according to People.
James was born in Kingston, Jamaica, but moved to Jamaica, Queens, when she was 10, she told the Daily News in 2004.
She lived with her single mother and had a tumultuous childhood in the crime-ridden neighborhood. Her life changed when she introduced to fencing by a teacher at Public School 3 in Greenwich village when she was just 11.
She soon won a scholarship to the prestigious Dwight School on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, which led to a scholarship to Princeton University.
When she competed in the Olympics, Morgan Stanley footed the bill after she interned for the company.
But the promising young athlete was diagnosed with schizophrenia after a breakdown her senior year at Princeton, her friend and former trainer Eric Rosenberg told People.
Despite opening a fencing club in Greenwich, Conn., a second breakdown lead to a downward spiral, Rosenberg said.
But James seemed to be getting better after moving to Modesto in 2011, Rosenberg said in a post on Fencing.net.
“Still, just prior to her death, she had resumed a stable drug regimen, was living comfortably and had begun thinking about the future,” Rosenberg wrote.
James’ death left a void in the fencing world, Don Anthony, the USA Fencing president, said in a statement.
“Kamara’s untimely passing leaves our fencing community very saddened and her spirit, charm and wit will dearly be missed,” Anthony said.
This is truly sad. This young woman was so talented and unfortunately her life was cut short. Our thoughts and prayers go out to her loved ones.