Sad Chapter Unfolds in Local Man's Rise to the NFL
Posted September 26, 1999 7:00 a.m. EDT
FAYETTEVILLE — A former Fayetteville high school football player who turned pro appeared to have it all. However, Demetrius Underwood's life appears to be slowly unraveling.
First, he left the team that drafted him for millions. Now, he is recovering from a self-inflicted stab wound to the neck.
"Great athlete. I knew he was going to play pro ball. I just didn't know when," said John McDonald, E. E. Smith football coach.
Underwood got his football start at E. E. Smith High School in Fayetteville. He was an all-conference defensive end and was well liked by both his teammates and coaches.
"One of the kids. He kept his nose clean. Pretty much stayed out of trouble. No problems with him. He was in my U.S. history class, and he was a pretty good student," said McDonald.
McDonald says he cannot believe a young man with so much potential would try and take his own life.
Moses Townsend was Underwood's high school pastor. He knew something was wrong when Underwood told him he was walking away from a $5 million contract with theMinnesota Vikingsonly to sign with the Miami Dolphins for less than $400,000.
"I just believe that with all the pressure, with all the news media. He's 22 years old. He just got tired of the pressure," said Townsend.
Townsend hopes to meet with Underwood this weekend so he can tell him to focus on being a providing father to his two young boys.
"I want him to know that we love him, and life is worth living. He has so much to live for. He needs to live for his children," said Townsend.
"I hope he gets well, and maybe everything will turn out all right for him," said McDonald.
Police in Lansing, Mich., say Underwood stabbed himself after his Saturday arrest for nonpayment of child support.
Underwood was in Michigan because the Miami Dolphins had the weekend off.