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Story Archives: A life cut way too short
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|A life cut way too short|
My wife, Kathy, and I were watching the New Orleans-San Francisco football game Monday night when my cell phone rang at 8:31 p.m.
My son, Jake, called to relay the news that he just received a tweet on his phone saying, "Multiple sources are reporting that Broncos WR Kenny McKinley has passed away."
I stood there stunned, trying to comprehend what Jake had just said.
It was quite a shock for Jake, who talked to Kenny in early August for a feature he did for the Sentinel.
We both just kind of sat there, trying to figure out what to say.
Jake had talked about how super nice Kenny was during his phone interview and how he enjoyed talking to him.
McKinley was born in Baton Rouge, the son of Ferriday native Karen Scott McKinley, who graduated from Ferriday High in 1977, and Kenneth McKinley, formerly of Baker.
He was the grandson of the late Jeffery Scott and Enora Pea Scott of Ferriday
McKinley, a second-year NFL player, was on the Broncos' injured reserve list after having season-ending knee surgery in August, his second knee surgery of 2010.
I wondered when Jake called if the injury had something to do with his death, or if he had some kind of heart disease which often goes undetected in athletes.
I returned to watching the game and waited until halftime to see if ESPN would have a report.
Chris Berman then relayed that McKinley died of an apparent suicide.
If I was stunned before, I was flat-out knocked down by those words.
I went to the Denver Post Web site and found a breaking story that McKinley died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in his second-floor bedroom.
He was 23 and is survived by a young son.
The rest of the game was a blur. I don't know that I have ever watched a Saints' game that seemed so irrelevant.
Tuesday morning, Karen's close friend, Betty Davis, called me.
Betty actually wrote the first story about Kenny for us when he was a Denver rookie almost one year ago.
She gave the background of how the McKinleys resided in Mabletown, Ga.
McKinley, who Steve Spurrier called the best wide receiver he ever coached, had his jersey retired at South Carolina and was selected in the fifth round of the NFL Draft.
He received his Bachelor's Degree in Retailing.
The McKinley's attended Denver's preseason contest against Chicago last August.
Betty wrote, "The girls were bored after trying to yell to the coaches to put their brother in, which they thought was to no avail," Karen said. "However, when they heard their mother, father and Aunt Sheryl screaming, they woke up suddenly, seeing their big brother make a 54-yard touchdown catch from quarterback Tom Brandstater. It was so exciting. The people in our section were giving all of us high fives. We are so proud of him and I know that my parents would have been there with us. I know deep down in my heart that they are with us in spirit."
Betty barely got the first words out of her mouth Tuesday morning when I told her how sorry I was for her and her family for their devastating loss.
She was also still in shock.
She said Kenny's parents had dropped Kenny off at the Atlanta airport Sunday night and he seemed fine.
Understandably, Betty was having a hard time believing Kenny took his life.
"He loved his family so much," she said. "They were very close."
Betty was just as proud of Kenny as his parents were and I ache for the pain they are going through.
Rascal Flatts released a song about suicide called, "Why."
The chorus says,
"Oh why, that's what I keep asking
Was there anything I could've said or done
Oh, I had no clue you were masking a troubled soul, God only knows what went wrong. And why you would leave the stage in the middle of a song."
And what a beautiful song it was.
|Frank Morris Murder Series|