Saturday, September 21, 2002

When the cheering stops

Bob Hayes died this past week. He's still the only athlete who had an Olympic gold medal and a Super Bowl ring. What a shame he couldn't keep his hands off booze and drugs. Link via Oceanguy.

Anyway, the Hayes thing made me think of several others who were heroes for a while, but ended up in obscurity or worse.

It would have been easy to miss the tragic death of Rod Milburn in 1997. He won a gold medal in the 110m hurdles in the 1972 Olympics.

We'll never really know how good Sammy Drummer could have been with the right guidance. He was a hoops legend in Muncie, IN, a basketball-crazy town in a basketball-crazy state. He went on to play for Austin Peay and Georgia Tech, but somehow he never made the pros. Before he was done he was sweeping the gym back in Muncie when he was killed at age 38 in a crack deal gone bad.

At least Sammy got to play in college - then there's Ben Wilson of Simeon High School in Chicago:
As a junior he led Chicago's Simeon High School to the Illinois State Championship. In the summer of '84, he was selected as the top player at the ABCD Camp in Princeton, NJ., (back when it was known as "Nike/ABCD," before Sonny Vacarro took the camp over to adidas). Wilson finished the summer as the highest rated player, and entered his senior year regarded by most as the top high school senior in the country. Just a few days before the first game of his senior year, Ben Wilson was shot, less than a block from his high school campus. He died in a Chicago hospital less than a day later.
Wilson had committed to the University of Illinois, and so far Nick Anderson and three other Illini players from Simeon have worn #25 in his honor.

I can't stop it here, that's too depressing. One more.

Bob Love played pro basketball with the Bulls, and was their alltime high scorer until eclipsed by a guy named Jordan. Love had always had a stutter, and after an injury ended his basketball career he went downhill to the point of being a busboy. Then a manager took interest in him, got help for his speech problems, and at last notice he was back with the Bulls as Directory of Community Relations.

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