Why would a young man with so many opportunities throw his life away?
That is what former Greenbrier football and basketball star Reggie Rice might have done.
According to police, Rice was part of a group involved in two home invasions in Charleston, S.C., and is being held in the Charleston County jail. The 22-year-old faces some serious charges.
During his days at Greenbrier, Rice was a standout on the gridiron and hardwood. He made an immediate impact as a freshman linebacker in 2002. Then, in 2003, he stepped into the 'Pack's starting lineup, led the team with 117 tackles and was named First Team All-County.
He would repeat as an all-county linebacker as a junior in 2004, and he also emerged as a threat running the ball. During Rice's senior season, he was spectacular. He had three 200-yard games, including one against perennial state power Lincoln County.
However, his final season was cut short when he was suspended after eight games following his arrest and subsequent guilty plea in juvenile court to a statutory rape charge. Rice and his co-defendant, Shad Harris, were tried in juvenile court because the three girls involved were deemed to have been willing participants.
Rice was placed on 24 months of probation and ordered to perform 56 hours of community service. He was given something else after the 2006 incident: a second chance.
Several area leaders went to bat for Rice, and even assisted in him being admitted to The Citadel, where he had been offered a football scholarship.
Early on during his career as a cadet, it appeared Rice was redeeming himself. After a redshirt year in 2006, he emerged as a key reserve as a redshirt freshman in 2007. Then, in 2008, he was starting at inside linebacker and early in the season he was the Bulldogs' leading tackler.
However, that is when Rice's path took a turn for the worse. He was booted from the team in the middle of the 2008 season. What followed is anyone's guess.
Rice told a Charleston judge that he had no permanent address. So how does a kid with so much promise end up facing multiple felony charges and decades behind bars?
Well, that, too, remains up in the air.
What is known is that Rice is behind bars and charged in a violent Feb. 27 home invasion in Charleston.
In that case, it is alleged that Rice, Citadel quarterback Miguel Starks, and two other accomplices lured Citadel assistant football coach Josh Harpe out of his apartment and forced him back inside at gunpoint.
Harpe was then bound with duct tape and robbed, according to an incident report. The assailants took his electronic equipment, some jewelry and his wallet. Finally, at 5:30 a.m., Harpe freed himself and called police. Starks, Rice and two other suspects, Stephan Francois, 20, and Tasha Gaskins, 18, both College of Charleston students, were arrested the same day.
The details of the case reminded investigators of a similar case in nearby James Island a few days earlier. In that case, a women and at least two men used a ruse to force their way into the apartment of former Citadel cadet Herbert Joseph Butler. Butler and his girlfriend were bound with duct tape while the assailants rifled through the apartment, stealing a flat-screen TV and electronic equipment. In this case, the female victim was also forced to perform a sex act at gunpoint.
Police say a victim identified Gaskins as the female who was involved in the incident, and they later found some of the stolen items in the apartment of Starks. Gaskins was charged in that case. On top of the multiple felonies in the first case, Rice is also a suspect in the James Island invasion.
Rice is innocent until proven guilty, but the case does not look good for him. How did he think he would get away with this? Rice knew Harpe. Police believe he could have known Butler. Sure, the group wore black bandanas, but did that really hide their identity? With a degree from The Citadel, Rice could have gone on to so many great things. Why would he throw it all away?
We might never really know the answer, but I can say with complete certainty that I am stunned and disappointed. Very disappointed.
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