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.
“It was difficult,” James told The News. “But fencing helped me break out of my shell. I was always over-thinking things. Then I found a way to challenge myself physically and mentally.”
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.
“Fencing gives me a concept of self, of success and defining my future,” she told The News in 2004.
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.