BALTIMORE — On a humid mid-July afternoon in northeast Baltimore, some 400 family, friends, neighbors, teammates, coaches and other mourners gathered in the Church of the Redeemed of the Lord to say goodbye to 17-year-old John Crowder. Not among them, however, were his AAU basketball teammates. They had a game scheduled that day in Augusta, Ga., at the Nike Peach States tournament.
“That was hard on the team, very hard,” said Darrell Corbett, an assistant coach for the Baltimore Elite team on which Crowder had played. “You could just see, they weren’t the same. They were not into it. It was hard to play that game, extremely hard. They were missing open layups, open shots. And they had dedicated that tournament to him.”
Also absent was Crowder’s former head coach at suburban Towson Catholic High School. Josh Pratt had attended a candlelight vigil the weekend before — with 800 others who walked to the spot where the player had died — then, he said in an e-mail, was too grief-stricken to go to the funeral.
Click here to see gallery of athletes deaths of 2009