Korey Stringer was born on May 8, 1974 in Warren, Ohio, just outside of Youngstown. He was one of three children. In his youth, Stringer developed a fondness for football. He was named an All-American high school Offensive Tackle in 1990. He led his school, Warren Harding High School, to a Class A Ohio State Championship in his junior year. He enrolled in Ohio State University in 1992, and was selected in the first round of the NFL Draft by the Minnesota Vikings in 1995.
Stringer improved in his first years in Minnesota. He worked his way into the starting offensive line by 1996, and helped his former Ohio State teammate, Robert Smith, rush for consecutive 1000-yard seasons. Stringer was named to the Pro Bowl for the 2000 season, donating his pay for the game back to his high school's football program. As the 2001 training camp got underway, it was expected that Stringer would be a leader of the offensive line.
Vikings training camp began during a heat wave in the Midwest, with temperature on the practice fields ad Mankato State University reaching 100 degrees. During the first day of practice on July 30th, Stringer was taken off the field, along with five other players, due to the heat. Because of this display of "weakness" on his part, Stringer practiced even harder on Tuesday morning. After vomiting three times that morning, Stringer flagged a trainer after the drills were finished. He was escorted to an air-conditioned trailer, diagnosed with heat stroke, and waited for paramedics to arrive. With a body temperature of 108.8°, he was rushed to Immanuel St. Joseph's-Mayo Health Center in Mankato. Many of his teammates visited him in the hospital after practice, as well as his wife Kelci and newborn son, Kodie. Korey lost consciousness, and died at about 1:50am Wednesday morning. He was the first NFL player to die as a result of heat stroke.
Srtinger's funeral was held at the First Assembly of God Church in Warren, Ohio on August 6, 2001. Attendance was so large that it filled the church sanctuary, leaving some mourners to watch the service being closed circuit television. Attendees included Minnesota Vikings teammates and coaches, as well as former Ohio State teammates Orlando Pace and Eddie George.
Stringer's death caused the NFL to reevaluate their minicamp practice regulations. While the days of denying players water had ended long ago, it was found that some team practices would continue even if conditions on the field were dangerous. While regulations were not changed, many head coached are more cautious of weather conditions during practice.
Kelci Stringer, Korey Stringer's wife, filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the Vikings in the spring of 2002. OSHA investigated the Vikings practices, and found that they were actually shorter and less intense than some other teams in the NFL. OSHA also discovered a bottle of Ripped Fuel in Stringer's locker, which contains ephedra and may have contributed to Stringer's condition. The Minnesota Vikings were found not liable for Stringer's death, as the team was not negligent nor had they inflicted intentional harm.