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Demetric Evans, Gun Violence and Sean

I found myself thinking about Redskins defensive end Demetric Evans quite a bit the last few days, wondering how he was doing. Demetric and I spent a fair amount of time the previous two weeks talking about our violent culture in this country, how your life can change in an instant, how he has overcome his own brushes with firearms.

I had been working on a story about Demetric, which ran on Sunday, the day before Sean was shot, and he was kind enough to reveal a part of his past that he rarely speaks to anyone about, even his mother and wife. When Demetric was 12, growing up in Haynesville, Louisiana, he and his best friend, Edward Crittenden, were at a classmate's house playing basketball. When the classmate told them his father had a gun in the home, Demetric became uneasy and left. He was barely out the door when he heard a gunshot; his best friend had been accidentally shot and killed, none of the boys realizing the gun was loaded.

Demetric wears No. 92 in honor of 1992, the year Edward Crittenden was killed (it was ruled an accidental homicide, and Demetric ended up testifying at the trail, the hardest thing he has ever had to do, he said). In 2003 Demetric was carjacked near a trendy Houston sports bar, asked to get on his stomach on the ground with a shotgun placed to the back of head. The criminals sped off with Demetric's car but did not fire, however, two other people were killed in carjacking in that area that night, and Demtric believes it must have been the same people who assaulted him.

Demetric turned down all counseling when Crittenden died, and chose to internalize his trauma. Personally, I am not sure how he did it, especially at that age. When I caught up with him after practice Wednesday to offer my condolences, I couldn't help but wonder how he was coping with Sean's death given his own personal experiences. As I suspected, he spent most of this week in silence, at home with his wife, in disbelief.

"I didn't talk much to no one," Demetric said. "Right now, everyone handles things differently, and my way to handle it right now is to kind of be silent about it and wait until I got back around my teammates first and get the response from my coach and owner and go from there."

During my conversations with Demetric leading up to the story I did on him, we spoke a lot about the fears we all have, but particularly pro athletes who are rich and in the limelight. Many NFL players have registered handguns as a form of protection, and Demetric has often thought about the role of weapons in our society after what he experienced at such a young age.

When we spoke last spoke in depth about this stuff, about 10 days ago, Demetric told me he has a registered gun that he keeps locked away at his mother's house in Louisiana (Demetric does not live there, even in the offseason). "I keep it stored away and when I have kids I know I won't keep one in my house," he said.

"I've know from an early age that a gun is something that you don't play with," Evans said during our interviews a few weeks back. "You need to be educated about them and somebody can lose their life in a second, and especially if you have children you need proper instruction on how to story it and keep it locked, keep the clip out, or whatever, because I've witnessed a parent losing their child to a handgun, and it's a horrible thing to experience."

By Jason La Canfora  |  November 29, 2007; 12:19 PM ET
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