Every year, about 65,000 football players complete their college careers, all with hopes to continue their careers in the National Football League. However, only about 300 players ever actually make it to an NFL roster. One of these hopefuls was former Iowa State running back Stevie Hicks.
From 2003 to 2006, Hicks had led the Cyclones in rushing each of the four seasons he played in Ames. And not only was he a star on the field, but well-liked off it, with friends & family recalling how “he was nice to everybody”, and was “really, honestly, truly a good kid.”
Unfortunately, Hicks’ dreams of playing in the pros never came to fruition, not helped by injuries he suffered in his later ISU seasons. And the disappointment of seeing his playing career end was apparently too much to take - so he chose to jump to his death.
The OMAHA WORLD-HERALD reports on what happened to Stevie on the day after Thanksgiving. The night before, he had left his grandparents’ house several times before returning in the morning, “talking to himself and threatening suicide”:
At 7:35 a.m., Omaha police officers were dispatched to the dark green, one-story house on Decatur Street. Hicks was in the driveway, an arm around his grandmother, according to the records.
“Please take him,” she said. Police interviewed Hicks, asking if he planned to hurt himself or others. “No,” he replied. After about a half hour, the officers left.
At 8:34 a.m., motorists began to report that a man had landed on Interstate 480 north of Dodge Street. “I just saw somebody jump off a bridge,” one 911 caller said. At 9:14 a.m., Hicks was pronounced dead at the University of Nebraska Medical Center of head injuries suffered in the 57-foot fall.
A toxicology report would later find no evidence of narcotics or drugs in Hicks’ system, although his grandmother had earlier told police, “I think he has been, but I don’t know whether he has lately.”
Authorities later found out how despondent Hicks was over his football fortunes:
Before his death, Hicks took his football trophies off shelves and packed them away. He threw one of his old helmets in the trash. He turned large poster photographs of himself in his football uniform to face the wall.
As mentioned earlier, only a very small percentage of college players ever make it to the NFL. So Stevie wasn’t the only one to see his pro prospects end. But is it really worth taking your own life? Sadly, we’ll never really know what could have driven this young athlete to go through with such a desperate act.
There are NCAA commercials shown every so often (like this one) that explains, “There are more than 380,000 student-athletes, and most of them go pro in something other than sports.” It’s a good lesson for all college athletes to learn - it’s always a good idea to have a Plan B.