Two Auburn football players shot to death

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Two Auburn football players shot to death

From Comcast SportsNet
AUBURN, Ala. (AP) -- Authorities searched Monday for a gunman suspected of killing three people and wounding three others in a weekend shooting at a pool party near Auburn University that a witness said began with a fight over a woman. Two of the slain victims were former players for the school's powerhouse football program. Authorities were searching for Desmonte Leonard, 22, of Montgomery, who is accused of opening fire Saturday night at an apartment complex after getting into a fight with some of the victims over a woman. He faces three counts of capital murder. Auburn Police Chief Tommy Dawson said Leonard fled the scene in a white Chevrolet that he abandoned on the way back to Montgomery, about 55 miles away. They believed he was in the Montgomery area. Of the three wounded victims, John Robertson remained in critical condition after being shot in the head. Xavier Moss was released from the hospital. The third wounded victim was Eric Mack, a current football player who is expected to recover. Slain were Edward Christian, who had to quit the team because of a lingering back injury, and Ladarious Phillips, who had previously quit playing football. The other person killed was 20-year-old Demario Pitts. Police emphasized that the shootings didn't appear to have anything to do with some of the victims being former or current players on the football team, which won the national championship in 2010. "The only connection that the Auburn football team has to this is they are victims of a brutal shooting. Sometimes the young men get a bad rap, I feel like, but they are the victims today," Dawson said. Dawson said he did not know why the party was being held or what started the fight. Turquorius Vines, 23, said he was at the party Saturday evening at the University Heights apartments with one of his friend, Pitts. He said he and his friend were approached by two other men who started arguing with them over a woman. Vines said he punched one of the men, while Pitts hit both of the men over the head with a bottle. Either one or both of the two men then started shooting, he said. He said Pitts was shot and killed, while two others also were hit by gunfire. Vines said he had never met the men he was arguing with. "It's like I lost a lung," Vines said of losing his friend. "I don't know how I'm going to survive this." Several emergency vehicles converged overnight around the University Heights apartment complex where many students live. The building was swathed in yellow police tape. It appeared that the shooting happened in an archway near the apartment complex information center, near the edge of the parking lot. The apartment complex was the scene of another shooting in April. In that shooting, a man armed with an assault rifle allegedly opened fire on a police tactical team as officers carried out a search warrant. No one was hurt, but officer seized weapons, cash and a pound of marijuana. Police identified the alleged shooter in the April gunfire as a 21-year-old man, who was charged with four counts of attempted murder and drug possession. Three other men were arrested on drug charges. Mack, the player wounded in Saturday's shooting, is a junior offensive lineman from St. Matthews, S.C. He played in five games last season. Coach Gene Chizik said Mack was expected to recover. Christian was an offensive lineman who left last season while dealing with a back injury. Phillips was a backup fullback. Chizik said in April that Phillips had decided to give up football. A person who answered the phone at the home of Phillips' mother declined comment and said his family was too distraught to comment. "Nobody should ever have to endure such unimaginable grief, and we will love and support the victims' families during this terribly difficult time," Chizik said. "We have a lot of people on our football team that are hurting right now and we're going to do everything we can to help them get through this."

Blakely: This could be the start of something big for Celtics

Blakely: This could be the start of something big for Celtics

BOSTON -- Prior to this year, the Celtics hadn't been to the Eastern Conference finals since 2012. That trip served as a curtain call of sorts for the last great C's dynasty.
 
But this one, which ended with Cleveland's emphatic 135-102 Game 5 victory Thursday at TD Garden, is very different.
 
Rather than closing another chapter in the Celtics' longstanding legacy of greatness, it could serve as the beginning of a new narrative in the franchise's steady growth.
 
"For us to be in the Eastern Conference finals after the first year of this team really being together, adding additions like Al Horford and Gerald Green . . . I can go down the list of guys that we needed to learn to play with, and for us to talk about where we wanted to be and actually make it, it's a big-time accomplishment," said Avery Bradley.
 
Boston has been among the younger teams in the NBA, with the 31-year-old Green being the oldest player on the roster.
 
But what the Celtics lacked in experience, they made up for with great effort.
 
"The great thing about this is the experience," Bradley said. "We were able to go to the Eastern Conference finals, learned a lot about being in this position, and I feel like it's going to help us for next year."
 
But as we all know, the Celtics will look to strengthen themsevles this offseason, which means there's a very good chance they'll have a different look when they gather again in the fall.
 
How different is anyone's guess.
 
"It's difficult every year whenever you don't have guys back," said coach Brad Stevens. "I think you share a bond (over the course of a season)."
 
Stevens and this group have been together for eight months. Eight months of struggles, successes, frustrating defeats and euphoric victories that brought them to the conference finals, which is where their season came to an end.
 
But as disappointed as the players and coaches are inow, there's definite excitement about this franchise in the very near future.
 
Boston has the No. 1 overall pick in next month's draft, with all indications -- for now -- pointing to Washington's Markelle Fultz as their choice.
 
And their top first-round pick from a year ago, Jaylen Brown, seemed to steadily improve as the season progressed. It was one of the few times in his life where minutes weren't just handed to him, which he admits was a learning experience unlike anything he had ever had, yet he adjusted and played better as the year went along.

"I've had ups, I've had downs, I've had opportunities, I've had mistakes," said Brown. "So I've been learning and growing and improving all year and I'm going to continue growing and improving and prove people wrong, prove doubters wrong."
 
Having the season end the way it did has indeed left a bad taste in the mouths of many Celtics.
 
"I can use it as fuel," Brown said, adding: "I want to get back to the same place I'm at now."
 
Bradley, who was on the 2012 team that lost to the Miami Heat in the conference finals, knows the Celtics are going to do whatever they feel is necessary to give them the best chance at competing for a title.
 
"It's out of our control as players," Bradley said. "We had a great year together. If guys are here, if guys aren't, we all wish the best for each other.

"But I do feel this is a special group. We all gave our heart every single night, played as hard as we could. I respect all my teammates, and I really appreciated playing with all the guys I had a chance to play with this year; a special group."