On the tennis court, David Young never believed he could lose--even against a superior player. And when he did lose, he always flashed an incredulous grin. His friends say he saw himself as invincible, immortal.
Although his ranking--999th in the world--was so low that few beyond family and friends would notice, his coaches say he showed great promise.
That promise was snuffed out in a burst of gunfire early Wednesday as Young, 21, and a friend rode a motorcycle through an upscale Pasadena neighborhood not far from his San Marino home.
Young, who had returned two weeks earlier from a monthlong stint playing in West Germany, died about 1 a.m. on Arroyo Boulevard near the Rose Bowl after suffering two gunshot wounds. His passenger, Alan Harlan, 21, a friend who had been living at the Young family's home, was shot four times and remained in serious condition Thursday night at Huntington Memorial Hospital.
Pasadena police are investigating the incident as a drive-by shooting--the city's 70th so far this year--but said there was no reason to believe that the attack was gang-related.
Sgt. Monte Yancey said officers also are investigating whether drugs were involved in the shooting but added that there was no evidence of that.
On Thursday, near a dried puddle of blood off Arroyo Boulevard, friends had built a makeshift shrine for Young--leaving flowers, a small American flag and a green tennis ball.
"I really think Dave thought he was invincible, that nobody could hurt him," said David Kaplan, 21, a friend from high school.
At San Marino High, Young was known for his free-spirited antics, such as excusing himself from class, hopping fully clothed into a nearby swimming pool and returning to his seat dripping wet.
"I did it my way," was the caption he chose for his yearbook.
"He would just say, 'I'm from San Marino, I don't give a (damn),' " said another friend, Alan Oberlander, 21. "You have to live here to understand. All the people are nice, they all have nice homes and they don't have to struggle. There was nothing for him to worry about."
Young's parents, Jack, a certified public accountant, and Gayle, a real estate agent, said they spoke with Harlan, who told them that a white Mustang convertible had begun trailing the motorcycle as he and Young rode toward a grocery store. The car pulled up alongside of them, Harlan said, and with no words someone opened fire.
"There was no hostility of any kind," said Jack Young, who moved with his wife and four children from Altadena to an elegant, palm-lined street in San Marino 10 years ago. "I don't think they had any idea they were going to be shot."
Kaplan said David Young "was the life of the party. You could tell when he was going to do something exciting because he would click his fingers and rub his hands together like, 'Oh, yeah, oh, boy.' "
On the tennis court, however, Young was somewhat more serious, winning varsity letters in high school. Last year he earned the top seed at Grossmont College in San Diego, where he was a sophomore.
In June, he went to Europe at the invitation of a West German tennis club near Stuttgart, where he won all six of his matches.
"He was a very good player, although he wasn't the best," said Brian Chambers, his high school tennis coach. "But I think he felt he was immortal. That's why this all comes as such a shock."
Times staff writer Craig Quintana contributed to this story.