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DETROIT — A 20-year-old Eastern Michigan football player was found shot to death today in an off-campus apartment building in what authorities said was a homicide.
Police were investigating the slaying of junior wide receiver Demarius Reed, which was discovered a day before a home game against Ohio University that will be played as scheduled.
“The circumstances involving his death remain under investigation at this time by the Ypsilanti Police Department,” school President Susan Martin said in a statement. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends, and his teammates on the football team.”
She said Eastern Michigan public safety officials were in close contact with Ypsilanti police. Grief counselors met today with Reed’s teammates, other students and faculty. The campus community was to receive updates on the slaying this afternoon during a forum at the Student Center Auditorium.
Reed’s body was found by his roommate about 7:15 a.m. in a hallway of the apartment building.
Reed went to Simeon Academy in Chicago, perhaps best known as the high school of NBA star Derrick Rose. Reed majored in Communication, Media and Theatre Arts at the school, about 30 miles southwest of Detroit.
The 5-foot-10-inch, 161-pound receiver played in six games this season, catching 15 passes for 181 yards and a touchdown. He made 18 receptions for 171 yards and scored a touchdown in nine games last season.
“The EMU family has suffered an unbelievable loss today,” said Heather Lyke, vice president and athletic director at the school “Demarius was an influential leader who thrived in the classroom and on the field. Everyone gravitated to him and often described him as the ‘life of the locker room.’”
Like many young football players, Reed’s dreams were to one day play in the NFL, his grandfather told The Associated Press.
“I told him ‘Man, you have to stay in that gym,’” Joe L. Reed said in a telephone interview from Chicago. “He would say ‘I’m good enough.’ He loved the game.”
The elder Reed said he found irony in the tragedy of his grandson’s slaying: Demarius was able to survive the dangerous streets and gangs of Chicago only to become a victim in the perceived safety of a university community.
“He was an outgoing, beautiful kid. He wasn’t associated with no gang or anything,” he said. “I would say, ‘Hey man. Don’t go outside.’ I wouldn’t let him associate with anybody over there.”
Over there, he said, is the area near Simeon on Chicago’s South Side.
Joe L. Reed said he even had reservations about his grandson moving into an off-campus apartment.
“He was on scholarship,” he said. “He could have stayed on-campus.”
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