| DIED |
At 36 of heart complications, former Indiana basketball guard Neil Reed. A top high school recruit from Louisiana, Reed spent three years with the Hoosiers before transferring to Southern Mississippi and later played a year professionally in Europe, but he is best known as the player whom Indiana coach Bob Knight choked during a practice in 1997. Reed (above) left the team at the end of that season (he was voted off by teammates) and kept silent about the incident until March 2000, when he went public with his accusation. A tape of the practice, broadcast by CNN/SI later that year, backed Reed's claim, and Indiana established a zero-tolerance policy for Knight, who was fired that September after another IU student accused the coach of grabbing his arm. "Believe it or not, I'm not happy that Indiana fired Coach Knight," Reed said at the time. "In a way I've been proven right, but that doesn't make my life any easier." Reed later coached high school basketball, football and golf.
| ABDUCTED |
By an armed man, and then returned unharmed nearly 24 hours later, Violet Ripken, the mother of former Orioles shortstop Cal Ripken Jr. According to a police statement, a man with a gun forced the 74-year-old Ripken (right) into her car outside of her Aberdeen, Md., home between 7 and 8 a.m. on July 24 and drove off. He then tied her hands and drove around for several hours, occasionally stopping to use her credit cards to buy gas, before leaving her unharmed the next morning near her home, where she was discovered by a neighbor. Officials confirmed that her credit cards had been used, but they received no ransom demands. According to Violet, her abductor did not mention or seem to know of her connection to her Hall of Fame son. Police have released a surveillance photo of the suspect but as of Monday held no one in custody.
August 6, 2012
| DIED |
In a shooting on the South Side of Chicago last Thursday night, 6'7" Iona basketball recruit Michael Haynes, who witnesses say was trying to break up a fight when he was shot in the wrist, chest and lower back. Haynes, 22, committed to UTEP in 2010 before transferring to Indian Hills Community College in Ottumwa, Iowa; he was planning to move to Iona, in New Rochelle, N.Y., later this week. "He wanted to get out of Chicago as soon as possible," says Iona assistant Jared Grasso, who recruited him. "He just wanted an opportunity." As of Monday, police did not have a suspect in custody, but they are holding Haynes's younger brother, 21-year-old Brian, who is charged with breaking into a nearby house four hours after Michael's death and threatening four people. Police have not said whether the events are connected.
| DIED |
At 25 of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest, Titans wide receiver O.J. Murdock. Police found Murdock in his car, which was parked in front of Middleton (Fla.) High School, where he starred as a teenager, around 8:30 a.m. on Monday and transported him in critical condition to an area hospital, where he was pronounced dead roughly two hours later. Murdock (right) signed with the Titans in 2011 as an undrafted free agent out of Division II Fort Hays State, where he had transferred after two years at South Carolina. He missed all of last season due to an Achilles tendon injury and was excused from training camp this week for personal reasons. He had been expected to report to camp last Saturday. In '10, Murdock's South Carolina teammate Kenny McKinley committed suicide by shooting himself in the head.
| DIED |
At 53 when the twin-engine plane that he was piloting out of Sedona, Ariz., crashed on takeoff, former Olympic distance runner Pat Porter, along with his 15-year-old son, Connor, and Connor's 14-year-old classmate, Connor Mantsch. Unrecruited after having started running in high school, Porter ended up at tiny Adams State in Colorado, where he met coach Joe Vigil and honed the toughness for which he would become famous. Porter went on to become a two-time Olympian in the 10,000 meters, in 1984 (he finished 15th) and '88 (23rd), but his real love was cross-country: With his long, elegant stride and front-running style, he captured a record eight straight TAC (the precursor to USATF) national cross-country titles, from '82 through '89, never trailing past the two-mile mark. Connor Porter had finished third in D-III men's foil at the 2012 USA Fencing national championships in July.
| STRUCK OUT |
A staggering 37 times in 39 at bats in the Gulf Coast League, 18-year-old Red Sox farmhand Shaq Thompson—who's now off to play safety at Washington. Thompson is by no means the only athlete who shares a name with Shaquille O'Neal to warrant headlines this summer. Herewith, SI constructs a medal stand exclusively for Generation Shaq.
With a prosthetic socket, knee and foot, he'll represent the U.S. in the 100 meters, 200 meters and shot put at the Paralympics this month.
The BYU freshman won the 800-meter final at the USA Junior Championships in June.
William Shaquille Goodwin
The rising Memphis freshman dropped 30 points on the U.S. Virgin Islands for the U.S. under-18 team in a 105--42 victory in June.
MLB PLAYERS POLL
Who is the most eccentric player in baseball?
NYJER MORGAN, BREWERS CF 19%
BRIAN WILSON, GIANTS RP 12%
JOSE VALVERDE, TIGERS RP 8%
JOSE REYES, MARLINS SS 7%
BRANDON PHILLIPS, REDS 2B 7%
The combustible Morgan, who answers to Tony Plush, was relatively subdued last year during Milwaukee's run to the playoffs. But the club has been struggling this season, and in June he shoved a fan in Cincinnati who interfered with his attempt to catch a foul ball.... Yankees rightfielder Nick Swisher finished sixth with 4% of the vote.
BASED ON 297 MLB PLAYERS WHO RESPONDED TO SI'S SURVEY
Minutes the costume for Red Sox mascot Wally the Green Monster went missing last Friday. Police were called after Wally walked out of Fenway Park, but the suit had not been stolen—a team spokeswoman said it had been worn out by an employee looking to "spread some good cheer."
Age of QB Tate Martell, who verbally committed to Washington last week after receiving a scholarship offer from Huskies coach Steve Sarkisian.
Bases stolen by the Marlins on July 25 during a 7--1 loss to the Braves. Florida is the first major league team in 103 years to steal seven bases in a nine-inning game while scoring just one run.
Broncos fans at QB Peyton Manning's first practice last Thursday in Englewood, Colo., a Denver record for a non-stadium workout.
Players in history to homer on the first pitch of their first big league at bat, after Pirates leftfielder Starling Marte went yard in the first inning of a 5--3 defeat of the Astros last Thursday.