Christian Saulsberry (2) with West Alabama in November 2019. Christian Saulsberry of West Alabama runs the ball during Saturday’s game in Melbourne. College Football West Alabama At Florida Tech

An emerging Canadian Football League star is dead at 25 after a shooting in Mississippi. Christian Saulsberry, a running back, receiver, and returner for the Edmonton Elks of the CFL, was pronounced dead en route to hospital early Saturday morning following a shooting. His team paid tribute to him:

Elks’ president and CEO Victor Cui also offered his own tribute:

Here are more details on what happened to Saulsberry, from Evan Barnes and Wynston Wilcox of The (Memphis) Commercial Appeal:

Christian Saulsberry, who played football at Southaven and Northpoint High School as well as the Canadian Football League, was shot and killed Saturday morning in Walls, Mississippi. He was 25 years old.

According to a statement from the DeSoto County Sheriff’s Department, deputies responded to a shooting in the 7400 block of Church Road at approximately 3:20 a.m. Saulsberry was shot in the abdomen and leg while attending a party and was pronounced dead while being transported to the hospital.

Mark McDaniel, 24, was arrested Saturday afternoon and was charged with second-degree murder. Per the sheriff’s department, he will be extradited to DeSoto County.

Following that high school career in Memphis, Saulsberry went on to play DII football for the West Alabama Tigers from 2018-19. (He’s seen above running the ball for them in a Nov. 2019 game.) He led the Tigers with 1,223 all-purpose yards during his senior season in 2019. He then joined the Elks this past CFL season, and posted 635 kickoff return yards on 34 attempts (18.7 yards per return), 235 punt return yards on 19 attempts (12.4 yards per return), and 78 missed field goal return yards on three attempts (26.0 yards per attempt) across eight of their 18 regular-season games.

Saulsberry didn’t feature in the Elks’ regular offence much in 2022, only recording one catch for 17 yards. But he was certainly making a mark as a returner, and might have been on the way to a larger role. Here’s one of his 2022 highlights, on a missed field goal return:

Here are some of the other tributes to Saulsberry Saturday:

Our thoughts go out to Saulsberry’s family and friends.

[The Commercial Appeal; photo from Craig Bailey/Florida Today, via USA Today Sports]


About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.