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Desmond Allison

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Desmond Allison Obituary
Former University of Kentucky basketball player Desmond Allison was shot and killed in Columbus, Ohio, on Monday.

Allison, 31, was pronounced dead at Grant Medical Center in Columbus at 3:54 p.m., said Franklin County, Ohio, Coroner Jan Gorniak.

Allison was a high school standout player in three sports who played basketball for two seasons at UK under Coach Tubby Smith. He transferred in 2000 after being suspended from the team for violating UK's alcohol policy. He was arrested on drunk driving and marijuana possession charges just days before the 2000 NCAA Tournament.

As a high-schooler in Tampa, Fla., Allison played wide receiver in football and was recruited by Ohio State and Florida.

Indiana, Texas and Ohio State, as well as UK, recruited him for basketball.

He qualified for the Florida state track and field meet in two events.

After his alcohol arrest while at UK, he transferred to tiny Martin Methodist College in Pulaski, Tenn., where he played two seasons.

He tried unsuccessfully to make it into the NBA and returned to Tampa, where he drifted from job to job and was arrested more than once on drug-related charges.

In 2005, a former high school assistant football coach helped him return to college as a wide receiver at the University of South Dakota. He was 25 years old at the time.

Vaughn Volpi, the assistant football coach from his high school days, said the funeral of a former high school teammate, Vanderbilt running back Kwane Doster, who was killed in a drive-by shooting in Tampa, had helped to turn Allison around.

"I pulled him aside," Volpi told the Herald-Leader at the time. "I told him, 'Desmond, I don't want to be at your funeral next.'"

At the time, Allison was relishing the fresh start.

"I feel very blessed to get another opportunity," he said, "because not a lot of people will give you a second chance."

UK Coach John Calipari posted the following statement on Twitter Monday night: "Big Blue Nation, please join me and pray for the family of former Kentucky Wildcat Desmond Allison as they grieve his passing."
Published in Lexington Herald-Leader on July 27, 2011
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