Monday, May 23, 2011
Sooners faced with more tragedy
By ESPN.com staff
Thursday morning, Oklahoma senior linebacker Austin Box was found unresponsive and was rushed to a hospital, where he died.
Later that evening, his defensive coordinator and position coach, Brent Venables, eloquently answered questions through tears about his former player.
"Every parent's worst nightmare is to get that call," he said. "We're numb, heartbroken."
On Friday, Venables learned that his brother had died.
"My brother passed away (Friday) unexpectedly. Young, 43 years old. Had to leave town immediately," Venables texted the Tulsa World on Saturday.
Venables and his brother are natives of Salina, Kan.
That concluded an unthinkable week for Venables and the Oklahoma program.
"You can't plan for this," Venables said on Thursday. "There's no blueprint for it. We just know that a young man was tragically taken from us today."
Box's former teammate, Gerald McCoy, was in Oklahoma City last week to donate four new bass drums and new uniforms to the band at his former high high school, and spoke to The Oklahoman about Box.
"I was driving when I got a text from one of my friends that said, ‘Did you hear about Austin Box?'" said McCoy, a teammate of Box's from 2007-09, and now a defensive tackle with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. “I typed his name on Google, and it said they found him unresponsive at his house and flew him to a hospital. First thing I did was immediately start praying, because unresponsive was already not good. Once I started praying, I simply said, ‘God, just let him wake up, let him respond, let his heart beat, something.'
"When they finally said what they said, it was like shock. I watched the guy when he got recruited, I played with him. We weren't necessarily the closest of friends, but he was my brother because we were teammates.
"He was a great guy to be around, a lot of fun."
Coach Bob Stoops was in Europe last week, but will surely face a trying few months -- if not longer -- when he returns.
Box's funeral is scheduled for 11 a.m. Friday in his hometown of Enid, Okla.
Officials began an autopsy on Box on Friday, but the cause of death might not be known until later this week, according to reports.