Wednesday, August 17, 2011
Devin Hester allegedly got cash, gifts
While at Miami, Chicago Bears star Devin Hester received everything from cash to rims for his car in violation of NCAA rules, a former Miami booster told Yahoo! Sports.
Nevin Shapiro is serving a 20-year prison sentence for masterminding a $930 million Ponzi scheme and claims to have provided impermissible benefits to 72 of the university's football players and other athletes between 2002 and 2010.
According to Yahoo! Sports, Hester allegedly received multiple cash gifts, approximately $3,000 for an engagement ring, tickets to a Miami Heat-Detroit Pistons playoff game, drinks and VIP access at nightclubs, multiple meals at Miami-area restaurants, food, drinks, entertainment and lodging at Shapiro's $2.7 million Miami Beach home, entertainment on Shapiro's $1.6 million yacht and jet skis, a suit, shoes and other clothing, and $7,500 in bounties from game performances.
Shapiro told Yahoo! Sports that he took Hester under his wing.
"Devin Hester was a really introverted kid," he said. "Very quiet. [I] saw him sitting outside Larry Coker's office, where he was unsure if he was ever going to play a down of football at the University of Miami. [I] started off taking him for lunches, meeting him for dinner, coming to my house often. He stayed at my house a few times, but was in my house often. I bought him rims for his [Lincoln] Navigator, I believe it was. It was a truck."
Hester refused to discuss the subject Wednesday.
"I'm only here to to talk about Chicago Bears football," he said. "Anything other than that, no comment."
Yahoo! Sports lists the bounties that Hester received as: $1,000 total for a 97-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in a 38-33 win over Florida on Sept. 6, 2003; $2,500 total for two punt returns for touchdowns in a 48-0 win over Louisiana Tech on Sept. 18, 2004; $2,000 total for two return touchdowns in a 41-38 win over Louisville on Oct. 14, 2004; $1,000 total for a kickoff return for a touchdown in a 45-31 win over N.C. State on Oct. 23, 2004; and $1,000 total for a missed field goal returned for a touchdown in a 27-10 win over Florida on Dec. 31, 2004.
"I was giving Devin cash," Shapiro told the website. "Three hundred here, $400 there, $200 there, $400 there."
And he described helping Hester propose to his girlfriend.
"He was getting serious with an athlete at the University of Miami. Her name was Tamara James. We called her T.J. She played basketball," he said. "I bought him an engagement ring, which was a promise ring. I think it was about $3,000. He gave it to her, proposed at the Miami Heat playoff Game 7 against the Detroit Pistons, sitting up in about the 22nd to 25th row."
A source told Yahoo! Sports that Hester, who played for Miami from 2003 to 2005, had trouble with a roommate and ended up living at Shapiro's house for an extended period.
And not only did he hang out on Shapiro's yacht, Hester also did some damage, according to the website.
"He was always on my yacht. I mean at least 15, 20 times," Shapiro said. "He wrecked one of my jet skis. Cost me $8, 9, 10 thousand. I don't remember exactly."
Yahoo! Sports also obtained a photo of Hester with Shapiro at a 2003 benefit dinner paid for by the booster, and another photo of Hester in Shapiro's VIP section of the Opium Garden nightclub in 2003.
The website also obtained a credit card statement that shows charges at a clothing store on the day that Shapiro alleges taking Hester shopping, and another credit card statement that shows tickets to the NBA game in question.
In addition, Yahoo! Sports obtained multiple photos signed by Hester with messages for Shapiro. In one, Hester allegedly writes "To: Nevin, Devin's big cuz 4 life," and signs "Devin Hester #4."
ESPNChicago.com's Michael C. Wright contributed to this report.