Tragedy hits former Georgia Bulldogs quarterback, gymnast

Combined ShapeCaption
Cory Phillips, whoplayed for the Bulldogs1998-02, and his wife, Courtney, a former gymnast, lost their youngest son in a house fire.Walker was just 10 years old.The Phillips' three children were in the care of a grandparent when the fire broke out.Cory Phillips was the last walk-on to start for UGA at quarterback before Stetson Bennett took over in 2020.Courtney Phillips is from Dalton and lettered as a UGA gymnast 1997-1998

ATHENS -- A former Georgia quarterback and his wife are grieving the death of a child Friday following a tragic fire in Cartersville.

Cory Phillips, who played for the Bulldogs from 1998-02, and his wife, Courtney, a former UGA gymnast, lost their youngest son, Walker, in an overnight blaze. He was 10.

The couple was out of town on a ski trip to Utah, and their three children were in the care of a grandparent when the fire broke out. Firefighters are still on the scene. The other two children were not injured, according to friends.

The Cartersville Fire Department received an emergency call at approximately 3 a.m. Friday reporting a structure fire. Chief Scott Carter reported that more than 20 firefighters responded. They found a family residence “significantly involved.” It took “several hours using multiple pieces of equipment to bring the fire under control,” Carter said.

It was determined that four individuals were inside the 9,828-square foot home at the time. Three made it out. A 10-year-old male was pronounced dead on scene.

The fire department, the state fire marshal’s office, and the Bartow County medical examiner and coroner’s office working together to determine the cause of the fire.

All three children attend North Cobb Christian School in Kennesaw. Todd Clingman, North Cobb’s head of school, sent an email to school parents Friday alerting them to “a devastating tragedy within our school family.” In the message, he confirmed that the two older children were unharmed but said that Walker’s status was unknown and that firemen were unable to enter the home.

“Please stand with us in prayer for this beloved NCCS family,” Clingman wrote.

Former football coach Jim Donnan, gymnastics coach Suzanne Yoculan and the couple’s former Georgia teammates were quickly mobilizing Friday to provide aid and comfort.

Phillips was the last walk-on to start for the Bulldogs at quarterback before Stetson Bennett took over in 2020.

Phillips grew up in Hartwell and starred at Hart County High School before walking on at Georgia. Phillips’ wife, the former Courtney Whittle, is from Dalton and lettered as a UGA gymnast in 1997 and 1998.

ExploreThe memory of Walker Phillips will live on in Cartersville