Tragic end for former Maryland basketball player

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Tragic end for former Maryland basketball player

By JP Finlay
CSNbaltimore.com

Former Maryland basketball player Earl Badu died from an apparent suicide on Sept. 27, Baltimore County Police officials confirmed on Sept. 28.

Badu apparently jumped from an eastern Baltimore County overpass on I-95 and dropped some 50 feet before landing on I-695, according to reports. Medical personnel transported Badu to Johns Hopkins Bayview, where he was pronounced dead.

A fan favorite during his time in College Park, Badu was a walk-on player for the Maryland team that won the national championship in 2002. Badu, a Baltimore native, found himself in legal and financial trouble in the years preceding his death.

At the time of his death, Badu was heavily indebted to Montgomery County, Md., chiropractor Dr. Alan Cornfield. Montgomery County (Md.) Circuit Court documents revealed Badu's debts to be 300,000. Badu and Cornfield met through Cornfield's connections to the Maryland basketball program, according to his lawyer Lewis Silber.

Apparently Mr. Badu and Dr. Cornfield knew each other for a number of years, Silber said. There was something going on where Badu told Cornfield he could make him a lot of money.

Documents show that Cornfield filed a civil complaint against Badu on Dec. 10, 2010, with a litany of charges: breach of contract, fraud, misrepresentation of facts, unjust enrichment and restitution based upon unjust enrichment.

Silber went on to explain that Badu owed a lot of other people money as well, but the attorney said he was not at liberty to discuss those other people at this time.

Throughout the almost 18-month trial, Badu did not retain a lawyer. Silber added that Badu listed himself as self-employed when asked in court.

Silber last saw Badu on Friday, Sept. 21, in a court room. As part of a payment plan to repay the 300,000, Badu wrote a 20,000 check. That check bounced.

Badu pleaded guilty to writing the bad check, and was sentenced last Friday, according to the Montgomery County Circuit Court Criminal Department. The former Maryland player was due to serve a five-year suspended sentence with three years supervised probation for the bad check charge.

Im not sure where the money went, Silber said. We ended up going to court, and he agreed to pay the money back. In the process of doing so he wrote a check that was not good.

Silber said that Badu asked for more time to make things work.

"It seemed like he was trying to figure things out, Silber said. He seemed that he believed it would be taken care of. As long as we kept pushing it off, another week, another week, it would work out.

Despite Badus requests for more time, Cornfield received no money.

We needed to see something. Nothing was going through, Silber said. Dr. Cornfield wanted his money back and this was the way legally we had to do it.

Calls to Cornfield's office were not immediately returned. What happens with Badus debt remains to be seen, Silber said, but the sadness of the situation did not escape the attorney.

I feel very bad for Mr. Badu, Silber said. I know his family.

Badu was 33 years old at the time of his death.

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20 offseason Caps questions: Should the Caps re-sign Justin Williams?

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Sorenson: Ugh, I hate this question.  Justin Williams has been such an important part of the Capitals’ growth and success the past two years, I hate to admit the fact that Washington may have to let him go.  However, he will be 36 this fall, and while in his next contract, he may not earn his $3.5 million salary he did the past two years, there is probably a team who could afford to pay him somewhere in that neighborhood.  He has put up 52 and 48 points respectively in his last two years here, which are higher than his previous three years in LA, despite playing fewer minutes per game, on average.  If for some reason Williams still believed his best chance to win a fourth Stanley Cup was here with the Washington Capitals, and he is not ready to hang up his skates, maybe he would be willing to take a large pay cut to stay.  That is a decision Williams has earned the right to make.

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Regan: If you are a team that cannot get over the hump in the postseason, Justin Williams is exactly the type of player you need. Yes, Washington was still unable to get past the second round for the past two seasons with Williams in tow, but his is still a voice you want in the locker room come the postseason. The problem with bringing him back, however, is money. The Caps just don’t have much of it and probably not enough to sign a player who will turn 36 in October. If I am Brian MacLellan, after I settle all my RFAs my first call is to T.J. Oshie. If he re-signs, then there is zero money left for Williams. If he doesn’t, then MacLellan’s second call should be to Williams to see just how low he would be willing to go. A veteran leader like him will undoubtedly be able to get more on the open market than in Washington, but he turned down a bigger offer from Montreal to sign with the Caps originally. Would he be willing to do it again? If not, you have to let him walk.

El-Bashir: A phrase I heard often during my four years covering the NFL was, “You can’t keep everybody.” And my gut tells me that phrase could end up applying to Williams, who has accumulated an even 100 points (46 goals, 54 assists) in two years as a member of the Caps. To me, this is GM Brian MacLellan's second toughest decision after sorting out T.J. Oshie’s future in Washington. Let’s consider the pros: Williams is still a productive player and he’s savvy enough to make adjustments that compensate for what Father Time has taken from him. Experience matters, too. Look no further than Chris Kunitz, the Penguins’ Game 7 hero. The 37-year-old alternate captain’s numbers have declined, but he earned every bit of his $3.85 million salary on Thursday night by being the Penguins’ best player in their biggest game of the season. Williams has risen to the occasion in the past and his DNA suggests he’ll do it again. The cons: Williams will be 36 in October and the Caps need to get younger and faster. MacLellan also must consider the need to create full-time openings for prospects like Jakub Vrana, a winger who’s itching to take the next step and costs significantly less. In the end, I suspect the cap-strapped Caps will make a play to keep No. 14, who earned $3.25 million each of the past two years. And then Williams, who has said he’d like to stay but may well attract longer, more lucrative offers elsewhere, will have a business decision to make. My take: both sides will ultimately decide it’s best to move on.

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