By JP Finlay
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.