MEMPHIS, Tenn. Dora Lee Holmes had a thing about Sherlock Holmes. She also had a sense of humor. As one of 23 children, maybe it was out of self-defense. When she delivered a son in 1964, she named him Baskerville, after the "The Hound of the Baskervilles."
In doing so, she created one of the great names in sports history.
"I just fell in love with that name," she says, sitting in her tidy home not far from Graceland. "I thought it was different."
She laughs, and you can see her drift off for just a few seconds into the mind's eye of memory. Baskerville Holmes was a human spring. He high-jumped 7 feet in high school to become the Tennessee state champion. Always smiling and kidding around, he was a perfect compliment to Keith Lee and William Bedford on one of college's great all-time front lines.
As a native son, Memphis embraced Holmes and his teammates as Gods. After he was cut by the Milwaukee Bucks in training camp and had bounced around Europe in places like Spain, Finland and Sweden, he returned to Memphis no longer the hero-in-the-moment. By 1997, Holmes was an out-of-work truck driver Consolidated Freightways had laid him off. He was nearly 100 pounds more than his playing weight and had been arrested twice for domestic violence.
On March 18, 1997, the frustration turned toxic. After an argument with his girlfriend of six years, Tonya Franklin Crossford, Holmes shot her and, later turned the gun on himself. Before he died, he told Crossford's brother, Gerald Franklin, it had been an accident.
According to Franklin, Holmes was battling drug addiction and depression.
"I had talked with him several times before," said Franklin, who was in the room when Holmes shot himself in the temple. "He said, 'G, I got so much on my mind, I don't know what to do.' I know for sure that kind of got to him."
Holmes was 32 and he was laid to rest in Lambert, Miss., alongside his father.
"The way it happened, that's the hard part," his mother says, looking down at the grave. "Physically, he's gone but he'll always be in my heart. I'll always be grateful for the joy that he brought into my life, my family's lives and so many other lives."
Greg Garber is a senior writer for ESPN.com
|Baskerville Holmes was one of many the tragic stories that came out of the 1986 NBA draft.|
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