Anyone who comes even close to Gamecock territory in Columbia, SC, knows that University of South Carolina fans love their teams. They are some of the most vocal and loyal fans around. As a matter of fact, when ESPN College GameDay traveled to Columbia to cover the USC Gamecocks vs. the Georgia Bulldogs in 2012, the ESPN analysts couldn’t stop raving about USC’s school spirit. Even veteran Senior Coordinating Producer Lee Fitting said, “The horseshoe is one of the best sites we’ve ever had for College GameDay.”
So of course the city was stunned when on November 4, 2013, former USC football star Kenny Miles was found shot in his car and rushed to the hospital. He was able to give authorities a description of the person who had attempted to rob him. First reports had him fighting for his life.
On November 5, 2013, a visibly frustrated Sheriff Leon Lott gave a press conference to let the people know there had been no robbery. He gave no further details of what had actually happened, but just wanted to let the people know that there was no armed robber running loose in the community. He expressed his displeasure at the wasted man hours and resources that had been wasted hunting a robber that didn’t exist.
Now things have gotten even more confusing. An article in The State Newspaper, November 12, 2013, blared the headlines “Sheriff: Former USC football player Kenny Miles shot himself’. The comments on social media had run the gamut from “somebody tried to rob him”, to “drug deal gone bad”, to now a puzzled “Huh?”
Kenny Miles then issued a statement apologizing to the police department, the fans, his former teammates, and his family. He said he had made a mistake. We will be following and updating this story. But for now all we have is speculation. Was it a cry for help? Many college football stars are glorified. Not in a bad way, but we as fans scream our throats raw for them every Saturday. They’re sometimes treated a certain way in classes by professors in awe of their spectacular feats on the field.
Women, from cheerleaders to grocery clerks, dazzle them with starstruck smiles. And they almost always find a job through connections within the vast Gamecock alumni network. Kenny Miles, after graduating with a Criminal Justice major in 2012, found employment with the South Carolina State Attorney General’s office. So what could have gone wrong?
Time will reveal the truth, but we still must be vigilant over Kenny Miles and our other athletes once they leave that rarefied air of being king of the roost. What about the ones who don’t go on to the NFL? Many do fine. But for some, if that was their life, it can be quite daunting to work a regular 9 to 5 job. Of course it may have nothing to do with this and could have been a mistake while cleaning his gun. But we must be very careful of our athletes and not discard them like yesterday’s toys. More to come.