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USF freshman Ford loses father

Freshman running back Mike Ford has overcome much to earn a football scholarship to USF, and the 20-year-old endured a personal tragedy during a difficult time last week as his father, Robert Ford Jr., died suddenly and unexpectedly at age 46.

Robert Ford Jr. was at a social event with friends Friday night when he died, and there still are no answers as to a cause, said Mike Ford's mother, Dondra Walker. Friday had been a tough day for Mike Ford, who had turned himself to Sarasota police early that morning on an outstanding warrant for missing a court appearance relating to traffic citations.

A couple of things to clarify: Ford was released at 6:06 p.m. Friday, about 18 hours after he turned himself in to Sarasota police. He was not required to pay any kind of bond and was released by a county judge on time served. Ford, who had been cited three times since March 2006 for driving without a registration or valid license, had missed a court date on June 12, which caused the warrant to be issued. According to the arrest report, he approached Sarasota police and notified them of the outstanding warrant. The report goes so far as to say that Ford was "very respectful and polite to the officers."

Ford's mother said he had a class at USF the day of his court hearing and "completely forgot," saying that his license had been suspended because he had gotten a ticket and not paid the fine. "He did something stupid, but he wants to put it in the past," she said. His off-field problems are unlikely to result in any significant disciplinary action from USF coach Jim Leavitt.

Services for Robert Ford Jr. will be held Saturday morning in Sarasota. For a better glimpse into his life and how much his son's success meant to him, please read this great story from Chris Anderson of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune. I can't find the story itself on the paper's website, so I've linked to a posting on a message board from two years ago. Our thoughts and prayers go to his family and friends.

[Last modified: Thursday, May 27, 2010 11:31am]


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