Cool Runnings Inspiration Sam Clayton Jr Has Died After Battle With Coronavirus

Cool Runnings the cast lined up in front of a wintry setup

One of the most iconic --and certainly among the funniest -- Disney live-action films of all time has to be director Jon Turteltaub’s Cool Runnings. The story of the real-life Jamaican bobsled team that competes for a shot at the 1988 Winter Olympics, and also a John Candy classic, has been watched by audiences for decades. Sadly, one of the inspirations for that very film, former bobsledded/sound engineer Sam Clayton Jr, has passed away today at the age of 58, as another casualty due to complications from the coronavirus.

Clayton is pictured below, as part of his New York Times obituary:

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While he was one of the sledders in the Jamaican bobsled team that inspired Cool Runnings, Sam Clayton Jr. wasn’t involved in the sled crash depicted in the film’s rousing finale. That hasn’t stopped his fellow teammates discussing how he was an important piece of the victory that was won in the name of Jamaica’s international sports profile.

Born to a family that had its own musical roots, Sam Clayton Jr. would go on to eventually become a music producer and sound engineer, once he left the world of professional sports. Reggae was his genre of choice, and his output in that realm was best remembered by the lead singer of Steel Pulse, one of the bands that Clayton had been a part of in his music career.

In his obituary, lead singer David R. Hinds, the man who also confirmed Clayton’s passing to the media, had the following to say of his bandmate:

Where Sam towered over the rest of his peers, is that he held dearly every task he did, no matter how small, or how tedious. They all got his relentless undivided attention.

Strangely enough, the same Winter Olympics that saw the Cool Runnings crew aspiring for greatness in the face of adversity were also the same games that saw another inspirational sports story play out. As the events of the fellow Olympic feel good flick Eddie The Eagle just happened to take place at the same time as this Disney classic, one can’t help but think that the 1988 Winter Olympics were something more inspirational than usual even for those great games.

Part of the reason is because people like Sam Clayton Jr. went out into the world and struck out for greatness. Dreamers like Clayton make history, and his efforts will always be remembered in the world of sports. We here at CinemaBlend send our condolences to the friends and family of Sam Clayton Jr, in this time of sorrow and remembrance.

Mike Reyes
Senior Movies Contributor

CinemaBlend's James Bond (expert). Also versed in Large Scale Aggressors, time travel, and Guillermo del Toro. He fights for The User.