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Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Tragedy strikes Bucs DT Price again as sister dies in car accident

Bucs defensive tackle Brian Price was at Los Angeles International Airport last week preparing to board a flight to Tampa when he got a phone call informing him that his sister Bridget had been involved an automobile accident.

For Price, who lost a second brother to a gang-related shooting eight years ago, the news was nearly too much to bear.

"He got the call, and it might have been his dad who told him Bridget has been in an accident and I don't think it looks good,''said his agent Charles Price, who is no relation to Brian. "I don't think Brian got to see her alive.''

Bridget, 30, the mother of 7- and 9-year boys, died almost immediately of injuries sustained in a car accident last week. The resulting grief and mental exhaustion led to a three day hospital stay for Brian in Tampa that ended Thursday afternoon, his agent said.

According to Charles Price, Bridget was responsible for helping Brian overcome the shooting death of his two older brothers.

“It’s been a rough couple of years to say the least,'' Charles Price said. "Especially where he’s coming from and it’s as if he can’t catch a break.''

Bridget was the victim of a hit-and-run accident that caused her car to 'spin out of control,' and head on into another vehicle, Price's agent said.

His sister's death exacted a heavy toll on Brian, who had planned to attend the Bucs' first week of Organized Team Activities Tuesday. The Bucs have not commented on the absence of their second-round pick in 2009. But apparently, Brian became so mentally and physically exhausted that he was dehydrated and had to be hospitalized, his agent said.

"It was just a situation where like the stress of the whole situation made him sick,'' Charles Price said. "He couldn't hold anything down. He had headaches, a fever. In fact, he just got out of the hospital (Thursday). I can't speak for him, but I think it was a combination of the mental and physical stress. I was at the funeral and there was just a lot of grief, a lot of anger. His body sort of shut down on him.''

Bridget's death is just the latest in a tortuous string of tragedies that Brian has had to cope with. His 18-year-old brother Eddie was killed in a drive-by shooting while walking a girl to a bus stop in the gang-filled Crenshaw district when Brian was only 10-years old. Five years later, Brian's brother Damon was shot in the back of the head by a so-called friend as he drove his car along Crenshaw Blvd.

"Most people wouldn't see that much tragedy in a lifetime, let alone in their own family,'' Charles Price said.

Damon's shooting death sent Price into a spiral of plummeting grades and threatened to jeopardize his college football career. But as always, there was Bridget to lean on as his support.

After a stellar career at UCLA, Price was the 35th overall pick of the Bucs in 2009. The plan was for him to team with Oklahoma defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, the third overall selection by Tampa Bay, to form one of the best young pass-rushing tandems in the NFL.

But Price's rookie season was only limited to five games. He was placed on Injured Reserve with a pelvic fracture and underwent separate surgical procedures to reattach both hamstrings.

Last season, Price struggled with conditioning and was limited to 24 tackles and three sacks despite playing in 15 games. Charles Price said he was working with sports therapist and trainer Alex Guerrero, who works with quarterback Tom Brady and running back LaDanian Tomlinson.

"Literally, prior to getting the news, he making great physical strides and had done all the preliminary work to have a great season,'' Charles Price said. "None of that really seems important now. But this was just a setback in every way. I was at the funeral and to me it was one of the saddest things I've ever encountered.''

Bridget's sons will remain in Los Angeles with their grandmother until school ends but Brian plans to adopt them both and invite them to live with him in Tampa.

"Obviously, he's the only son now and there are a lot of young girls in the family,'' Charles Price said. "He's trying to be there, to be the strong one for his family. This is his third older sibling he has lost and Bridget was always there for him when his brothers died.''

Despite his loss, Brian is determined to get his NFL career back on track and could participate in team workouts next week, his agent said.

"I always thought the kid was super motivated and didn’t need any extra incentive to play hard,'' Charles Price said. "There's no doubt in my mind, he won’t stop now. The minute he puts it together physically, he's going to be one of those players everyone is talking about in training camp and the preseason. That's just how tough he is.''

 

[Last modified: Friday, May 18, 2012 1:58am]

    

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