Wayne Ellington, a reserve guard for the Los Angeles Lakers, lost his father to street violence in Philadelphia, a reminder that the glitz and wealth of professional sports life can be intruded upon with tragedy, too.
You see them on television. You read about their hefty contracts. They are living their dreams. But for all they seem to have, they are not invincible. And they hurt just as any of us hurt.
Just ask Ellington, whose father of the same name was shot in his car by unknown assailants at an intersection in Philadelphia Sunday night. Senseless violence. Again.
“My family and I are devastated by the news of my father’s murder on Sunday night in Philadelphia,” Ellington said in a statement released by the Lakers. “We appreciate everyone’s support and ask that you respect the privacy of our family during this very difficult time.”
Michael Jordan’s father was killed in similar fashion in North Carolina. Brian Shaw, coach of the Denver Nuggets, lost his parents and a sister in a horrific car accident. Mike Tyson had a daughter die in a freak accident. And on and on.
“This is our livelihood, but it’s still just a game,” Lakers coach Byron Scott said. “This thing that’s happening with Wayne is real life. It kind of puts everything in perspective, too.”
Ellington is in his sixth season after a stellar career at North Carolina. Police say there was no motive for the murder and there are no suspects. There’s only a family left behind to grieve. Ellington is on an indefinite leave of absence from the Lakers.
“As a team, we’ll obviously keep going on and trying to win games, but I think all of us, every now and then— during the game, after the game, before the game—will have Wayne on our mind,” Scott said.
No one is insulated from the horrors of the world. Money and fame can provide most everything except that. We get reminders every so often. . . sadly.