Vitale to pay for slain teenager's funeral arrangements
By Eamonn Brennan
Sure, he's an annoyingly boisterous basketball analyst whose prime has probably passed. Sure, at this point, he makes college basketball a little less entertaining for me. But so what? Those are minor concerns compared to important real-world stuff, and where the important real-world stuff happens, Dick Vitale is as good a man as there is in sports.
No specific examples are really needed; it sort of just shines through in his work on ESPN. You can tell the guy has a big heart. But then there are times like this
, when Vitale doesn't just give off the impression -- he carries it out to its logical extreme.
The story is as follows: Jazmine Thompson, a Bayshore High School student in Bradenton, Fla., was driving late at night with a couple of friends when 18-year-old Daniel Floyd Williams allegedly strode up to their car, asked the group of girls for sex, was turned down, walked away, and turned and fired on the car. Thompson was fatally wounded. Her plan, according to family and friends, was to attend college and become an attorney.
Without knowing the family personally, Vitale inquired with the girl's mother, Raechelle James, to see if the family needed anything
James recently lost her job and has no insurance. She wasn't sure how she was going to pay for her daughter's funeral arrangements -- which, on top of everything else, I mean ... can you imagine?
So Vitale has offered to help with the funeral expenses, and is hoping to establish scholarship fund in Thompson's and another recently slain Bayshore graduate's names.
"I didn't know Jazmine. I just know what I read, and it tears my heart out," Vitale said. "There's no way there should be a funeral for that young girl this weekend. She did nothing wrong. She was minding her own business. From everything I've heard and read, this was a wonderful young girl with a bright future and she deserves to be remembered in the best possible way,'' Vitale said.
Thanks to Dick Vitale, nothing more than a Good Samaritan with a copy of his local newspaper and a high profile, that might happen. If me having to sit through each overloud Vitale broadcast last year meant giving him the power to do this, I mean, sheesh. Can I ever complain again? Basketball commentary is small potatoes. This is the real stuff.