Editor’s Note: The follow is taken from a column written by former Penn State football player LaVar Arrington, who tells his experience with a boy now known as Victim 4.
By LaVar Arrington-
It’s hard to believe I could feel any worse about the horrific situation at my alma mater, Penn State, and the allegations against former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky. But when the trial opened yesterday, to my dismay, matters became even more personal.
One witness, identified as Victim #4 by the grand jury, mentioned me multiple times. He spoke of wearing my jersey and having his photo taken with me. It again brought to mind his name, which originally had come to me when news of this scandal first broke.
Everything that has happened has aged me a few years, as I’m sure it has many others. But now my sadness and disappointment are growing as I realize that I knew this young man fairly well but didn’t grasp the full extent of what he was going through.
He’s 28 now, but I can recall seeing him around all the time when he was a kid, and I built a relationship with him. I always enjoyed interacting with kids. As time went on, I knew he looked up to me and was a big fan, and I made a point of stopping to talk with him. I’d ask him the usual questions: ‘How are you?’ ‘How’s school?’ He always seemed mad or kind of distant. I remember distinctly asking him: “Why are you always walking around all mad, like a tough guy?”
My preconceived notion was that he was part of Sandusky’s Second Mile foundation, so he must live in a troubled home, and I chalked it up to that. I would just tell him to smile every once in a while or laugh, that it would make him feel better. I guess with everything that I had going on, it certainly wasn’t a priority for me to try to figure him out. I saw him at the 1999 Alamo Bowl game and shared a couple laughs. I left school for the draft and that was that.
I can’t believe after all these years I’d feel so bad about a kid that I hadn’t thought about since I left school. But of course I do.