Christian Ewell

Age 33: Reporter covered news, sports in 10 years at The Sun.

May 11, 2008|By Chris Emery | Chris Emery,Sun reporter

Christian Ewell, a reporter for The Sun who had written about sports since his college days, died of brain cancer Saturday at a hospice in Kansas City, Mo. He was 33.

Mr. Ewell joined The Sun in 1997, working as a sportswriter and news reporter in Baltimore and in Howard County. His sports assignments took him to the Super Bowl in 2001, when the Ravens beat the New York Giants, and to the men's college basketball Final Four in 2001 and in 2002, when the University of Maryland defeated Indiana in Atlanta for the national championship.

"He had a great attitude, and even when he was ill he still came to work every day," said Timothy Wheatley, assistant managing editor for sports at The Sun. "He reported on many big events but also was willing to do whatever was needed to help, no matter how big or small the assignment."

As the University of Maryland football beat reporter for several years, he covered the 2002 Orange Bowl and the 2003 Peach Bowl.

Born and raised in Topeka, Kan., Mr. Ewell was a precocious reader and sports fan as a child.

"We would always fight over the sports page," said his older brother Brian Ewell, who lives in the suburbs of Chicago. "That was always the point of contention. He always remembered the names and numbers of the athletes, the teams, whatever the year. He had a knack for it."

Mr. Ewell earned a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Southern California, where he became sports editor of the Daily Trojan.

He was chosen as a Chips Quinn scholar in a prestigious national program for young minority journalists. That led to work as a general assignment and sports reporter at the Philadelphia Daily News. He also held internships at the Topeka Capital-Journal, ESPN2 in Los Angeles and the Knight-Ridder bureau in Washington. He studied at Howard University during his junior year.

His friends and family said Mr. Ewell's interests were broad and notably included music, reading and food.

"He was sort of a Renaissance man," said Liz F. Kay, a colleague at The Sun. "He was incredibly well-read."

Sean Kearns, a friend he met at USC, said Mr. Ewell often hunted for new restaurants. "He would send e-mails to me asking me if I'd tried a restaurant," said Mr. Kearns, who lives in New York. "There is a little Vietnamese stand in New York he found. Any time he would come to New York to visit, he was showing you new things, and you're like, 'Don't I live here?' "

Mr. Ewell was active in the Baltimore-Washington Newspaper Guild and tutored children for Reading by 9, a childhood literacy program. He also enjoyed running and worked out regularly with the Pacemakers, a Baltimore running group.

"I remember trying to follow Chris all over Druid Hill Park, and he really left me behind," said Robert Hilson Jr., a member of the Pacemakers. "He was a good guy and a good runner."

Mr. Ewell continued to run after he fell ill. When his condition prevented him from driving a car, he rode his bike to meet with fellow runners.

"That's not easy to do, to ride your bike and then run," Mr. Hilson said. "He wanted to do it because we were all his friends."

Mr. Ewell, who had lived in Baltimore for a decade, took a leave from the newspaper last summer and moved to his mother's home in Kansas City after his illness became more severe.

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday at Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses, 4230 S.W. Gage Blvd. in Topeka.

He is survived by his mother, Delores Ewell of Kansas City; his father, Billy Ray Ewell of Naperville, Ill.; and another brother, Henri Ewell of Kansas City.

chris.emery@baltsun.com

Sun reporters Nick Madigan and Patricia Fanning contributed to this article.

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