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Renaldo Woolridge copes publicly with his father's death and funeral

By Matt Norlander | College Basketball Writer
In recent years, few other college basketball players have become as known for who they are away from the sport as Renaldo Woolridge. The former Tennessee player made a name for himself by taking on the moniker Swiperboy and releasing hip-hop mixtapes.

Woolridge was always a decent basketball player, but his rhymes garnered more headlines while he was at UT. Music is clearly as big a passion for Woolridge as playing basketball is, and once he's done with hoops, the young talent will undoubtedly try to chase down a successful, long-term music career. Last year, Woolridge transfered out of Tennessee and landed at Southern Cal for his final season, which he'll play in 2012-13.

Woolridge is the son of former NBA player Orlando Woolridge, who died on May 31 at the age of 52. Over the weekend, Orlando's funeral was held. What was sad became really, really touching. Renaldo took to Twitter to spread his grief for, and thanks to, his father. It was one of the more heartwarming gestures in social media I've seen from a college basketball athlete.

Renaldo was hurting, but was also proud of who he'd become -- because of his father.

A smattering of Renaldo's tweets, I encourage you to click on the photo URLs within:




Renaldo also found his muse in music, taking the time in the past 10 days to write and record a song for his father. It's titled "Big O Salute," and he released it over the weekend. The best part, aside from it being a worthy, endearing song: it's really, really good.



Unfortunately, Woolridge's death has become the second bout of tragedy to hit the USC program this offseason. In May, forward Evan Smith lost his father, Gavin, to a mysterious disappearance. The case is still ongoing, and authorities continue the manhunt for Gavin, whose disturbing vanishing became a huge headline in greater California.

A lot of programs will enter next season with interesting challenges and difficulties to overcome. No team will have the circumstances surrounding a season like USC, who will find an unfortunate but unique way to rally.
 
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