Sam Clayton Jr. was part of the team that helped to inspire the 1993 Disney film Cool Runnings

By Jason Duaine Hahn
April 15, 2020 03:05 PM
Sam Clayton Jr.
Credit: Picture Alliance/Getty

Sam Clayton Jr., who was part of the Jamaican bobsled team that qualified for the 1988 Winter Olympics in Canada, has died of complications from coronavirus at age 58.

According to the New York Times, Clayton — a producer and sound engineer — died on March 31 in Kingston, Jamaica. Steel Pulse, the popular reggae band, confirmed Clayton had died of coronavirus in a post to social media on April 2.

“It’s been a lot to process with this world of ours facing such a calamity, better known as COVID-19,” the band said in a statement posted to Instagram. “Losing so many friends and associates along the way has been a real bitter pill to swallow. Not for us respecting anyone’s life or death any less, but the one that has really and truly sent this message home has been the passing of my bredren and working partner, Sam Clayton Jr., who passed away in Jamaica, less than two days ago.”

The band called Clayton — who now leaves behind a daughter, three sons, and a wife — a “sincere friend” who had made great contributions to the music industry.

“When it comes to mankind, there are countless goals, ambitions, and aspirations; but in the case of Sam Clayton Jr., there is no doubt in my mind, that his was ‘that aim to please,’ ” Steel Pulse frontman David Hinds tells PEOPLE. “There was not one idle bone in his body. Any project he embarked upon was always done wholeheartedly.”

“From my perspective and experience, there is not many people I will hold close to heart,” Hinds adds. “Sam was one of the exceptions to that rule. A trustworthy soul, who I will miss, dearly.”

Clayton and the other members of the 1988 Jamaican bobsled team took the Calgary Olympics by storm with their unlikely story, which would eventually inspire the hit Disney film, Cool Runnings, in 1993.

Though the team’s members had never bobsledded before, they used borrowed equipment and makeshift training facilities to practice ahead of the Olympics, according to Today.

During the Games, the team was disqualified when they lost control of their bobsled and crashed. But in an emotional moment, the team walked to the finish line to the applause of everyone in attendance.

During his time in the music industry, Clayton worked with a number of artists to ensure reggae reached an array of fans from around the world. He was also fluent in French and worked with many French musicians.

According to the outlet, Jamaica has seen 73 cases of coronavirus and four deaths as of Tuesday afternoon.

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