The death of former Kentucky basketball player Desmond Allison isn’t one that immediately registers outside of the UK community and Allison’s hometown of Tampa, Fla. He only played two years in Lexington, wasn’t a star and never full realized his athletic potential.
Tracy McGrady will tell you otherwise.
The former NBA All-Star didn’t mince words in his tweets about Allison, who died Monday afternoon in Columbus, Ohio. Police say he and another man, Malcolm Goff, were shot multiple times after they became involved in an argument. Goff was treated for his injuries. Allison died at a local hospital.
McGrady wasn’t the only one who recalled Allison as a supreme athlete.
He was a two-sport star at Robinson High School in Tampa, averaging a triple-double his senior season and catching 15 touchdowns for the football team.
“I’ll tell you what, in all my life, Desmond Allison was the best athlete I’ve ever seen. He had opportunities that he squandered, but he kept trying,” Robinson football coach Mike DePue told the Tampa Tribune. “He had a great personality. This is a sad, sad turn of events.”
Allison only played two seasons at Kentucky under then-coach Tubby Smith, averaging 4.7 points as a freshman and 7.8 as a sophomore. He left school in 2000 after getting in trouble under the school’s no-tolerance alcohol policy. He pleaded with Smith for a second chance, but to no avail.
From there, Allison was in and out of jail on drug charges and tried to revive his athletic career with stints for the Martin Methodist basketball team and the South Dakota football team. Nothing clicked, and Allison ended up as an athlete who could’ve thrived under different circumstances.
“He was just Dez,” DePue told the Tampa Tribune. “Happy go lucky and smiling. Man, this just beats you down when you see your children, when you see kids you helped raise die before you do. He was like one of my sons. I don’t know what else to say.”
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