It started as the ultimate family vacation but after tragedy, turmoil and heartache at the World Cup in South Africa, it has become a fundraising effort from Louisiana to Tampa Bay.
Former University of Tampa soccer star Nicole Murphy was killed by a drunken driver June 15 after a game in Cape Town. Her brother Brian remains there in a medically induced coma with severe head injuries.
All across the Murphys' home state of Louisiana, individuals, small-business owners and soccer organizations are holding fundraisers to help the family transport Brian home in time for Nicole's funeral. The family's insurance company hasn't agreed to pay the medical transport costs, and the family's expenses are estimated at $300,000.
"I was staggered when I heard that," said Tampa women's soccer coach Gerry Lucey, who became aware of the situation Thursday.
Lucey talked with athletic director Larry Marfise about what the Spartans could do to help. They hope to use the annual alumni game, scheduled for Aug. 21, to raise money, and Lucey said he hopes fans can contribute to a fund set up in Louisiana.
Danny Murphy of Lafayette, La., left for the World Cup last month with the four youngest of his six children: Danielle, 17; Brian, 19; Kellie, 21; and Nicole, 24.
Nicole was a four-year starter at UT and graduated magna cum laude in 2008. She was a key member of the Spartans' 2007 national championship team.
"Soccer is life to this family," Carrie Roy, a close friend of the Murphy family, told Yahoo. "Going to the World Cup meant everything to them."
Danny Murphy remains in South Africa with Brianwhile the others have returned to Louisiana. Nicole's body arrived Monday.
Brian's recovery is expected to be lengthy. It could be weeks, even months, before he's released from the hospital.
His mother, Charlene, is "having a really tough time right now," Roy told Yahoo.
Times staff writer Greg Auman contributed to this report, which includes information from Yahoo Sports.
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Want to help?
The fund to help the Murphy family is administered by Home Bank in Lafayette, La.
Contributions should be mailed to:
Home BankAccount # 2057873802P.O. Box 81459 Lafayette, LA 70598
For information about the Murphy Family Support Fund Care of Home Bank, call Nick Zaunbrecher at (337) 781-8494 or Home Bank at (337) 237-1960.