Holman story from today’s paper

Here is the update on Eli Holman that is running in today’s newspaper.

IU recruit Holman involved in drive-by shooting Saturday
By Matt Dollinger
331-4353 | [email protected]
January 24, 2007

Basketball became an afterthought for Eli Holman this weekend when the 17-year-old was shot in his hometown of Richmond, Calif.

Saturday, the IU basketball recruit and three of his teammates were driving to a birthday party, hosted by a member of Richmond’s girls’ team, at a Quality Inn.

Almost immediately after arriving in the hotel’s parking lot, the Mercedes-Benz Holman was riding in came under fire. Holman, who was sitting in the front passenger seat, was the only one shot. The Richmond center had a bullet graze his upper back. Doctors told Holman the bullet missed his spine by 2 centimeters.

“A lot is going through your mind when you’re shot,” Holman said by phone Tuesday. “Things like, ‘Am I going to die?’ ‘I’m not going to make it to see 18 and I’m never going to see my family or my mother.’ I have a nephew who just made it to 1 and started walking, and I was thinking, ‘I’m not going to be able to see him grow up.’ ”

But due to a combination of luck and the angle the shots were coming from, the bullet essentially bounced off Holman’s back, failing to penetrate his flesh.

“You start to think, ‘Why are they shooting at me?’ ” he said. “I can tell you, I’m not the troublemaker that everyone assumes. My schedule is so tight that I don’t have any time to get into any.”

The shooters were composed of three 16-year-olds and one 19-year-old. After a high-speed pursuit, all four were caught and are in the police custody.

Prior to the events Saturday, Holman said he hadn’t been to a party or social gathering in “about a year and a half.”

Sitting in the hospital over the weekend, Holman’s mind drifted toward his future with the Hoosiers.

“The experience (in Bloomington) was so positive that I have circled the day that I graduate high school and get out there to go to school. I love the people there and I love Coach (Kelvin) Sampson and the staff.”

Holman also worried about what people would say after they had heard he’d been shot.

“Another thing that was going through my mind was the PR nightmare that could evolve due to this. True, I was at no fault … but people’s perception of the ref issue has people questioning my character. I felt that neither IU nor the staff, in particular Coach Sampson, deserves to be questioned about why he recruited me.”

Holman talked to Sampson Monday morning after he was released from the hospital.

“He let me know that everyone was praying for me and that he couldn’t wait for me to get to Bloomington,” he said. “And brother, I can’t wait to get there.”

To add irony to the story, after fighting for 13 months to have his suspension overturned by the California Interscholastic Federation, the CIF is now set to reinstate Holman, according to Richmond assistant coach Lonnie Coleman.

But Holman has no intention of returning to school. Holman no longer feels safe in Richmond and has elected to move out of the area and be home-schooled by his legal guardian.

“Where you are from,” Holman told a reporter. “People are happy that you are successful, but here it can be a dangerous situation … Gunshots and sirens are so common that it becomes a part of the night like crickets.”

Holman has already resumed basketball activities. Two days ago, he played in his first pick-up game after being shot.

“He was playing against some big guys and they knew he got shot,” Coleman said. “Eli kept telling them to ‘hit me a bit harder, a little harder, a little harder.’ He told me after the game that he felt fine.”

4 comments

  1. Did anyone see a brief exchange or little scuffle between Sampson and one of the Illinois assistants (bald guy) at the end of the game? I was there and I thought I saw something but was not sure what it was. Thanks.

  2. I tend to believe his story, although I don’t necessarily
    agree with him going to a late evening party when he
    knows how dangerous it is.
    He sounds like someone who will love coming to IU, and
    hopefully, in better surroundings, will flourish.
    Everyone deserves a second chance.

  3. I think this was a worng place, wrong time deal. Listening to his side, and his after thoughts, this is a smart kid, in a bad city.

    As far as second guessing why he was there that late, he was with 3 team members, being a saturday night, they may have had a game that evening, and was now going to a friends birthday party. That isn’t that late for teens to be out. If it happened at 1 or 2 am, that would be different.

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