No matter the circumstances that lead to it, there's always a certain tone of sadness and regret that comes with the news of a former college athlete's death. It's different from a regular-person death, if you get what I mean -- especially if it happens at a young age.
Fair or not, right or wrong, doesn't it always feel like there was a helplessness attached to it? Maybe it's because so many of these players escape from an environment thanks to their abilities, and seeing them tumble back toward that later in life is saddening. I barely remember watching Desmond Allison play for Kentucky, yet today I'm hamstrung over the fact he was killed in Columbus, Ohio, Monday, the victim of a gunshot wound to the chest.
Who is this other man? We still don't know. The scenario that led to this shooting is still unknown, too. What a sad picture, though. An argument in the afternoon between who knows how many people led to the discharge of bullets.
Police say he was shot in the chest along with another man at an apartment complex in Columbus. Allison was pronounced dead at the hospital. The other man was injured, but no word on his condition.
The 31-year-old Allison was a two-year member of the UK team, from 1998-2000. He was kicked off the squad after an arrest for a DUI and having an open container of alcohol in his vehicle. He averaged 8.9 points and 4.4 rebounds per game his sophomore year.
His public, athletic life, for all intents and purposes, ended then. Tampa Bay Online spoke with Allison's high school coach, Scott Wagers, Monday night.
"It’s another tragedy from Robinson," he said. "It’s unbelievable. ... Desmond was the ultimate competitor," Wagers said. "He competed at everything. If we did a drill, he tried to beat your butt at it. I remember a game when he had a 102 temperature. He would wink at me when he wanted to come out of the game. I had a trash can where he could throw up. Then he’d take some Gatorade and get back out there. He had a basketball I.Q. off the charts."
Allison graduated from Robinson in 1998 as the school’s all-time leading scorer with 2,280 career points, the fourth most in Hillsborough County history.
Tracy McGrady gave Allison high praise on Twitter Monday night, upon hearing the news.He'd faced four arrests in the years after leaving Kentucky, but this story, from the St. Petersburg Times in 2005, showed the life Allison came to embrace. He was playing low-end professional football in Vermillion, S.D., five years removed from Kentucky hoops. Allison was recruited in hoops and football out of high school. He was an incredible athlete. But he could never find his way. The story linked above includes a coach asking this of Allison: "Desmond, am I going to your funeral next?"
Chilling, foreshadowing, foreboding and must-read material today.
Additionally, former colleague here at the blog, Matt Jones, has a good perspective post at Kentucky Sports Radio on who Allison was and what his time at Kentucky meant. Also: how he threw it away. An athlete gone too soon, and in such a sad, wasteful way. Gunfire on a Columbus afternoon. Thoughts and prayers to those who knew Allison well.