After a fall from a seaside cliff in San Pedro, Calif., USC kicker Mario Danelo, 21. Danelo's body was found last Saturday afternoon on a beach at the bottom of the cliff; as of Monday police were unsure what caused the fall but didn't believe it was the result of any criminal behavior. (Autopsy results were unavailable.) Danelo (above), a junior and the son of former NFL kicker Joe Danelo, missed only two field goals in two seasons as the Trojans' kicker and set an NCAA record for extra points (83) in 2005. He was last seen around midnight on Friday. Said a Los Angeles police spokesman, "It was fairly apparent that this was either an accident or suicide."
By defenseman Chris Chelios, a leave of absence from the Red Wings, after two employees of his Detroit restaurant were fatally stabbed on Jan. 2. According to an official in the Wayne County prosecutor's office, Justin Blackshear, 17, who was recently fired as a Cheli's Chili Bar busboy, admitted to the killings; he was charged with first-degree murder and faces life in prison. But on Monday, Blackshear's lawyer, Corbett O'Meara, told SI his client didn't confess and is innocent. Last Thursday a shaken Chelios said, "I've never been through anything this difficult in my life," and called the slain employees "the sweetest people you'll ever meet." The 23-year veteran was expected to rejoin the Wings for their game in Colorado on Tuesday.
By Heat coach Pat Riley, a leave of absence to undergo surgery on his right hip and right knee. Riley has been in pain much of the season and had cartilage removed from the knee last Friday. After winning its first NBA title last season, Miami sputtered to a 13--17 start under Riley and lost its first two games under assistant Ron Rothstein, who is serving as interim coach. Riley, 61, expects to return this season. "I'm just tired of the pain and the medication," he said.
After 10 seasons, the WNBA's Charlotte Sting, one of the league's eight original franchises. The Sting reached the WNBA finals in 2001 but made the playoffs just twice after that and drew an average of 5,783 fans last season, 13th among 14 teams. The NBA's Charlotte Bobcats announced last month that they were giving up control of the franchise, and an effort to find a buyer failed. "It's sad to see them go," says Greg Economou, the Bobcats' chief marketing officer. "They meant a lot to the people of the city, but by the same token, not enough people."
Across the Atlantic Ocean, 14-year-old Mike Perham of Potters Bar, Hertfordshire, England, the youngest person to make the solo voyage. Perham (above), who was followed by his father, Peter, in another boat (they were allowed to speak by satellite phone), left Gibraltar on his 28-foot yacht on Nov. 18 and arrived in Antigua on Jan. 3, a 3,500-mile journey. "At home in England you can't even climb a tree without a safety certificate," said his father. "So I hope it will ignite a little spark in some families."
To return to Duke, juniors Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann, two of the three lacrosse players accused of rape by an exotic dancer after a team party last March. The rape charges were dropped on Dec. 22 after the accuser waffled on her account of the incident. Finnerty and Seligmann, who were suspended by the university, are still charged with sexual assault and kidnapping but are free to return to class. (The third player accused, David Evans, graduated last May.) "The circumstances in this case have changed substantially," said Duke president Richard Brodhead, "and it is appropriate that the students have an opportunity to continue their education." Finnerty's mother, Mary Ellen, told the Baltimore Sun that the family is "happy this is an option," but that until the case is finished, "it's probably not a realistic one." Seligmann said he is unsure if he will return.
To the state of Wisconsin by Hall of Fame pitcher Rollie Fingers, more that $1.4 million in back taxes, interest and penalties. Last week the state's Department of Revenue released a list of the top 100 delinquent taxpayers; Fingers, 60, who is eighth on the career saves list with 341, ranked seventh. On Monday, Fingers said on his website that the Brewers withheld state tax from all his checks when he pitched for them (1981--82 and 1984--85).
On suspicion of domestic abuse and for violating a restraining order, sportscaster Jim Lampley, 57. Lampley, HBO's lead boxing commentator, allegedly threw his girlfriend, Candice Sanders, 29, the 2003 Miss California USA, against the wall of her apartment in Encinitas, Calif., on New Year's Day. The incident prompted Sanders to file for a temporary restraining order on Jan. 2; Lampley was arrested when he showed up at her home the next day, a violation of the order. Lampley posted $35,000 bail and said he is "innocent of the charge of domestic abuse" and "will vigorously defend myself."
Of his Bahraini citizenship because he competed in Israel, distance runner Mushir Salem Jawher. Jawher (left), a native Kenyan who changed his name from Leonard Mucheru when he moved to Bahrain in 2003, was a hero in the Arab country after he won the 5,000-meter silver medal at the Asian Games last month. But last Thursday he won the Tiberias Marathon in Israel, a nation with which Bahrain has no official ties. "This is outside the rules," said Mohammed Abdul Jalal, the head of the Bahrain Athletics Association. Jawher told The Jerusalem Post that he was "very proud" to have run in Israel and that "people should live together in harmony."
At age 49 of cancer, NASCAR driver Bobby Hamilton. The Nashville native came into the sport long before the current generation of media-savvy young guns, and he never lost his old-school roots or his forthrightness. In 2001, after then rookie Kevin Harvick—who had taken over the car of Hamilton's friend Dale Earnhardt after Earnhardt died—got into a few on-track scrapes, Hamilton said, on live TV, "He thinks he is Dale Earnhardt. But right now he wouldn't be a scab on Dale Earnhardt's butt." Hamilton won four Nextel Cup races, and in 2004 he won the Craftsman Truck Series championship. He drove the first three races of the 2006 season before turning the seat over to his son Bobby Jr. and beginning treatment for cancer in his head and neck.
Less than a month after undergoing cancer surgery, a Bruins rookie is back on the ice
CENTER PHIL KESSEL was the first regular out of the dressing room and barely stood still during the Bruins' one-hour practice last Thursday, exhibiting all the energy and abandon you'd expect from a 19-year-old NHL rookie. You'd never have known that halfway through his first pro season, Kessel has already been through a career's worth of stress. The workout at Boston's practice facility in Wilmington, Mass., marked his return to the ice following surgery for testicular cancer, which was diagnosed on Dec. 9. "He's got that permanent smile on his face right now," Bruins forward Glen Murray said. "And that's great."
Kessel's quick recovery—he said he is cured and needs no post-operative radiation treatment—is astounding, especially considering that he was in obvious discomfort when he met with reporters five days after having his right testicle removed on Dec. 11. After three weeks of running and lifting weights and a two-game conditioning stint with the minor league Providence Bruins (he scored Providence's only goal in a loss to Manchester last Saturday), Kessel, who has five goals and four assists in 27 games, was recalled by the Bruins on Sunday and was expected to be in the lineup on Tuesday against the Senators. It's a return he's been anxiously awaiting. "I watched some of the games," he said. "It's hard to watch when you want to be out there playing."
207 Consecutive NCAA losses, dating back to 1996, by Caltech's basketball team before the Division III Beavers beat Bard 81--52 last Saturday.
0--2 Record of NBA teams that have taken an 18--0 lead this season; on Dec. 9 the Nets blew the advantage against Boston, and the Bulls did the same against New Jersey last Friday.
6 Times in the NFL's 420 game postseason history that a team has been outgained by more than 300 yards; the Colts held the Chiefs to 126 yards last Saturday while gaining 435.
1,264 Games it took Lakers coach Phil Jackson to reach 900 wins; no coach has reached the mark faster.
Life Imitates Art
TRAILING IN the dying seconds of a pivotal game, Dallas sees its shot at a comeback win disappear—and its season end—when its holder, a quarterback who wears number 9, muffs a perfect snap on a short kick. That was the fate that befell the Cowboys last Saturday night in Seattle (page 50). It's also precisely how the classic 1979 movie North Dallas Forty ends, a coincidence that was not lost on Marshall Colt, who played the butterfingered holder in the film (left). "I was chuckling with irony watching that game," says Colt.
Since his turn as North Dallas Bulls born-again backup QB Art Hartman in Forty, which SI ranked as the 16th best sports film of all time in 2003, Colt has given up acting and earned a Ph.D. in clinical psychology. He does work as a management consultant and as a sports-psychology consultant—which Romo (below) could probably use right about now. "With athletes, you've got to do damage control to prevent them from fixating on a mistake," says Colt. "If he overconcentrates on this, it could have long-term consequences on his psyche." And Colt, whose character's miscue cost the Bulls the conference championship, has a message for fans who might be a bit upset with Hartman's real-life doppleg√§nger. "Go easy on Mr. Romo," he says. "All athletes make mistakes. It was just his turn."