Bear Down and Get Some Runs, best-of: the death of Thomas Herrion

Thomas Herrion, 1981-2005

August 21, 2005

When Kevin Garnett became the first high schooler in twenty years to skip college and go straight to the NBA in 1995, and when Kobe Bryant and Jermaine O’Neal followed his lead in 1996, I knew that in 2000 there would be a kid my age who would do the same. That kid was Darius Miles, the East St. Louis standout who ended up being drafted third overall by the Clippers, and ever since then I’ve seen more and more kids my age or younger enter the ranks of professional sports. The guys I cheer for now are no longer my heroes. They are my peers.

The Bears looked terrific last night in a preseason win over the Colts, and the White Sox lost again to drop their seventh straight, but the biggest news in the sports world is the sudden death of San Francisco 49ers rookie offensive lineman Thomas Herrion. Shortly after the end of the Niners-Broncos game Saturday night, the 23-year-old Herrion collapsed from an apparent heart attack and passed away. This brings back the debate about “how big is too big” for football players, as well as “how hot is too hot” for outdoor practices—Korey Stringer, an o-lineman for the Vikings, died in a similar fashion on August 1st, 2001, and Northwestern safety Rashidi Wheeler collapsed and died of apparent heat exhaustion two days later—but all that I can think about is that a kid my age who was looking forward to taking the next step in his life died suddenly. His online profile from the University of Utah is still on the internet. It reads:

Thomas Herrion

Class: Senior

UTAH: Honor candidate has loads of potential…will start at left tackle after starting at right tackle last year…selected to 2003 Utah Football Leadershi Committee (dependable, team player, strong academics and discipline, team spokesman).

PERSONAL: Son of J.C. and Janice Herrion…plays drums in his church band…enjoys jazz, hip hop, and blues…sociology major…born Dec. 15, 1981.


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