What Love's and Huguely's teammates knew

While dots will be connected, we might never have whole picture

May 08, 2010|By Jean Marbella, The Baltimore Sun

In the end, they were alone: two young people in a room. One would die; the other would walk away.

That they both were members of their college's nationally ranked teams didn't particularly matter at that moment, and yet that is how it will forever be telegraphed: the U.Va. lacrosse murder.

Not being a jock myself, but quite a fan, I tend to think of athletes en masse, traveling in a pack and united by shared victories and defeats, knowing that someone's always got their backs. Which is why it's particularly heartbreaking that in the end, Yeardley Love, by all accounts a popular and beloved member of both a team and a sorority, was alone to fend for herself.

And her ex-boyfriend and fellow lax player, George Huguely, now sits in a jail cell, segregated from the general population, having told police that he kicked in Love's door Monday and grabbed and shook her, repeatedly banging her head against the wall.

Love, from Cockeysville, was buried Saturday, and their respective teams will go on and play in the NCAA lacrosse tournament that starts this weekend. Some will see this as a tribute to Love's memory; others a slap to it. But it hardly matters now. The time to have truly been a friend or teammate of Love's — or Huguely's, for that matter — passed with her death.

No one, of course, knows what really goes on between two people, except for those two people. After a shocking crime such as this, what might have played out as randomly occurring incidents now seem like obviously connected dots.

And yet the details that are emerging about Huguely — his drinking and his sometimes violent temper, particularly when it came to his apparently stormy relationship with Love — seem like verbatim checkpoints from those lists of warning signs of domestic abusers.

Maybe no one person knew of all the previous explosions of anger or the extent of his rage. Maybe Love and Huguely were intensely private people. And yet, in a community as tight as Division I lacrosse, where players often come from a small group of high schools and thus have known one another for years, you have to wonder if there were signs of trouble that were missed or ignored.

Most troubling, perhaps, is something reported by The Washington Post on Friday: A former U.Va. lacrosse player said that Huguely attacked a teammate while he was sleeping last February, incensed after hearing that the other player had kissed Love after a night of post-game drinking.

This was no private scuffle: The lacrosse coach told the entire team about the fight at its next practice and disciplined both players, according to the Post story. Maybe by itself a single jealousy issue wouldn't necessarily cause concern — especially since, as a source told the newspaper, Huguely and the other player seemed to smooth things over and he and Love seemed happy together as well.

But then there were other outbursts — according to the Daily News of New York, Huguely "was really messed up and punched a window of a car on the way over to her apartment" one night, which apparently led to their breaking up. And, finally, last week, the Daily News said, he was said to have smashed bottles at a party and told people he was going to Love's apartment to get her back.

These are not exactly subtle messages. These aren't just drunken ramblings by a lovesick boy, but physical manifestations of some pretty strong emotions.

We don't know everything at this point. We don't even know who is recounting these incidents, or how much embellishment is going on at a time when the story is generating huge interest and news coverage.

Love's and Huguely's teammates have maintained a unified public silence this week, understandable given the anguish they must be feeling, for themselves and for Love's family. If there is anything team members learn, it's how to circle the wagons around their own. But as those who were perhaps closest to the victim and the suspect — those who shared their locker rooms and playing fields, their triumphs and their defeats — what they know will have to come out eventually.

Because at this point, we might never know what Love knew, especially about Huguely. But it's hard to believe that the last time he lashed out at her was also the first time.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.