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December 10 is a day that will probably stay with me for the rest of my days.
Shortly before leaving the office for lunch, I refreshed my e-mail and saw one from a familiar friend, Bill Harvey, the defensive coordinator at Newberry High School in South Carolina. Normally, I welcome any note from my old friend, but this was one that could've been lost in cyber space as it simply said, "Bad week, Dominique Brown, our Shrine Bowl player of two years ago, was shot and killed this weekend. Don't have many details."
I got a sick feeling in my stomach, and to be honest, it hasn't left.
There's no way that Dominique, who was always sporting a smile could be gunned down so I began calling around. After talking with someone close to the situation they confirmed what I had feared—Dominique had been gunned down outside of a club in Newberry County, the victim of some heated words that apparently carried over to a murder. Now one individual is behind bars and another will be put into the ground at the end of this week. Both families are sure to shed tears and the fact that this took place right after Thanksgiving and so close to Christmas makes the story even sadder.
Any time someone dies it is a sad and tragic event, but when it is a young person, someone with the prime of their life still ahead of them, it makes it even sadder. When it happens in a tragic, brutal nature such as this it makes it horrific.
Dominique was a fine football player for the Newberry High School Bulldogs, but he was a tremendous person. As I told a former staff writer at the paper in Newberry who was doing a story about Dominique, he was one of those people who always had a smile on his face and could turn the worst of situations into a calm event.
Some may remember him for his ability to knock down passes from opposing quarterbacks (he played defensive back for Newberry) or his ability to slice through defenders on the hardwood, but I will always remember his ability to make me laugh. During the three years that I served as the sports editor in Newberry, I had gotten to know Dominique and his family extremely well and always looked forward to our weekly and sometimes nightly encounters either on the gridiron or on the hardwood.
I can vividly remember standing next to him on the sidelines of a football game where he just missed an interception. I gave him a hard time about it, and he guaranteed that he would step up and record an interception. Sure enough he did and when he came back to the sidelines, sporting that million dollar smile, he said, "Hate to say I told you so."
That was Dominique. In this business we, as journalists, are not supposed to have a rooting interest in the teams and people we cover. We are not supposed to get wrapped up in whether (fill in your favorite team name) wins or loses, but today, I am throwing all that out the window. The entire Newberry High School family lost a great individual, and the same goes for my family.
Perhaps, Billy Joel was correct when he sang, "Only the good die young."
(Paul Gable is the sports editor for the Grant County News. He can be reached by calling 824-3343 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.)