Jul 26, 2011 5:54 AM by Mike Maharrey
He called a friend's murder a wakeup call, only to suffer the same fate some five years later.
Former UK basketball player Desmond Allison, 31, was murdered outside a Columbus, Ohio apartment complex Monday afternoon. Police say he was shot in the chest, possibly during an argument over a woman.
Allison started on UK's 1998 defending National Championship team. But Tubby Smith kicked him off the squad just before the 2000 SEC tourney after a drunk driving arrest. Allison was averaging 8.9 points per game and 4.4 rebounds that final season.
Allison moved onto play for Martin Methodist College, an NAIA school, then moved back to his hometown of Tampa where his troubles continued. Police arrested Allison on drug charges four times in a seven month span.
But in a 2006 interview, Allison said the murder of a friend served as a catalyst to turn his life around.
"Hey, this could be you if you don't get your act together. So that's all I needed to hear. Seeing my guy's body laying in the casket over something that probably should have never happened in the first place, I mean, that's just a big wake up call."
Allison tried to put his past behind him. In 2006, he took to the gridiron, playing tight end for the University of South Dakota.
"I would hope that people don't misjudge me and think that I'm the type of person that would do things that they read about, and that all those are past me," he said in that 2006 interview. "I'm a more mature person now, and that's just not how I am."
Current UK coach John Calipari tweeted a message after news of Allison's death broke.
"Big Blue Nation, please join me and pray for the family of former Kentucky Wildcat Desmond Allison as they grieve his passing."
Scott Wagers coached Allison at Robinson High School in Tampa. In an interview with the Tampa Tribune, he remembered Allison as the ultimate competitor.
"He competed at everything. If we did a drill, he tried to beat your butt at it. I remember a game when he had a 102 temperature. He would wink at me when he wanted to come out of the game. I had a trash can where he could throw up. Then he'd take some Gatorade and get back out there. He had a basketball I.Q. off the charts."
Wagers called Allison's death a tragedy.
"He was a good guy," he said. "He made mistakes, like we all do. There's never been a player, in my opinion, to come through that area as competitive as he was or as tough as he was."