DADE CITY — Near midnight on April 3, a woman came home to find her ex-boyfriend sitting inside her house with the lights off. Darren Hambrick — 34, a former NFL player often called the best football player ever to come out of Pasco County — was not allowed, by law, to have contact with this woman, yet he couldn't stay away. He had been on probation since December for beating her. The woman said in those few months, she had to call deputies four or five times because he would show up.
This time, he broke into the house through the screen porch and sliding glass doors, the woman wrote in a statement, according to court records.
When she found him, he was drinking a Miller Lite beer and smoking a cigar. She called 911 and he ran, she said.
Hambrick, of 38632 Patti Lane in Lacoochee, was arrested on a warrant Tuesday. He is charged with violating his probation.
Hambrick starred at Pasco High, leading the Pirates to a state football championship in 1992. He played at the University of South Carolina and was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in 1998. At that time, Pasco County officials talked about putting his name on welcome signs on the borders. His football career ended in 2002 because of his legal skirmishes — including running from a sheriff's deputy during a traffic stop and trying to cash an NFL paycheck twice.
After professional football, Hambrick continued getting in trouble. Last July he was accused of beating his then-girlfriend, raping her and holding her hostage for 11 hours.
Prosecutors decided not to pursue charges of domestic battery, sexual battery, false imprisonment and tampering with a witness. In December, Hambrick pleaded no contest to battery and was placed on one-year probation, according to court records.
As of Wednesday evening, Hambrick was being held in the Pasco County jail in lieu of $1,000 bail. Hambrick listed his current job as "laborer," according to the Pasco County Sheriff's Office.
Times researcher Caryn Baird and staff writer Molly Moorhead contributed to this story. Erin Sullivan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 869-6229.