Tales from the Underbelly: Duquesne, Clarett …

When we use the word tragedy in sports, the incident described rarely measures up to the depth of the word’s meaning. A true tragedy is unfolding in Pittsburgh where a 19-year-old sophomore coed was arrested Monday on weapons charges related to the horrible shooting of five Duquesne university basketball players the day before. Brittany Jones seems to be just one piece in a twisted puzzle in which she may have been used by the shooters to gain access to the players.

Three of the players remain hospitalized. The most serious one, junior forward Sam Ashaolu, 23, is still in critical condition with a bullet lodge in his head.

Prayers to each of the victims and their families.

And for Maurice Clarett, as well …. though of a different sort.

Just last week it seems, Clarett was The Next. He was the star running back who was going to redefine the position. Trouble was, he was too fast and he couldn’t outrun trouble. The former Ohio State star was sentenced to 7 1/2 years in prison yesterday in a plea deal stemming from robbery and concealed weapons charges. He’ll serve at least 3 1/2 years before being eligible for parole.

In truth, there are a lot of people who should serve at least a few days of that time. Any number of folks. Would be agents. Ohio State officials. Family members. (That’s his mother, below, holding his eight-week-old daughter) So-called advisers. The group would fill a prison bus.

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But Clarett is going alone. The saving grace is that Clarett will be be only 26 when he’s eligible to be released, time enough to finally be his own man. Emphasis on man. His daughter will be four.

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