You never see it coming.
I have gotten to know players from across this state for 20-plus years, easily one of the best parts of my job.
I pray and hope all the kids I encounter find their way, get into college, get a degree and take the lessons learned from sports and carry them into life.
But some of those kids don't find their way.
I got to know Josh Brent a bit when he was a four-star prospect at Bloomington Central Catholic High School. He was the kind of kid I loved to talk to and get to know.
Brent was a solid student and a heck of a player in high school, but had an up-and-down career at Illinois.
As a sophomore he pleaded guilty to driving under the influence. He was drafted in the seventh round by the Dallas Cowboys after playing his junior season.
Pretty much everyone knows Brent's story now.
He was charged with intoxication manslaughter after the car he was driving Dec. 8 was involved in an accident during which his Illinois and Cowboys teammate and friend, Jerry Brown, died.
On Tuesday, Brent, who is free on bond, attended a private memorial service for Brown.
Brent is just one who didn't find his way.
I still think about former Bolingbrook five-star linebacker Kyle Williams, who had offers from schools across the country. His talent was surpassed only by his personality.
But something went really wrong.
Williams was convicted of one count of attempted rape and two counts each of battery and confinement for attacking two women in separate instances while at Purdue. He is serving a 37-year prison sentence in Indiana for that. He received another 10-year sentence after pleading guilty to attempted aggravated criminal sexual assault on a Lisle woman while he was out on bail after the first attacks.
I mourn for the families involved and pray for Brent and Williams and so many others who never find their way.
I also hope today's kids can learn from yesterday's kids' mistakes.
Tim O'Halloran is the publisher of edgytim.com and a regular Tribune contributor.