On July 15, 1992, after pleading guilty to involuntary manslaughter, Parker was sentenced to five years' probation (which was lifted in July for good behavior.) During his sentencing hearing character witnesses for Parker flocked to the courtroom—Walker, high school teachers, Marshall coach Jim Donnan. Grateful for their encouragement, he went back to Marshall and got ready to play ball.
In the '92 season Parker displayed a powerful, slanting style, gaining 602 yards on 100 carries as a backup. Last year he showed even greater resolve. "One game, against The Citadel, Chris got hit at or behind the line seven times." recalls offensive coordinator Chris Scelfo. "Each time he gained at least three yards. He refused to take a loss."
Parker carried 339 times last season, fumbled only twice and set a Southern Conference record with 23 rushing touchdowns. He spent the off-season studying game films and adding bulk that brought his weight to 193 pounds.
"I think about the accident every day, and I wonder how I survived," he says. "It makes me feel I need to do something with my life."
Not far from Marshall Stadium. Parker lives with Coleman in a small second-floor apartment. Its walls are bare, and potted plants sit in one corner of the living room. This is Parker's home. He does not return to Lynchburg often, nor does he attend church in Huntington. But on Saturday afternoons Shirley and Joe Parker drive to Marshall Stadium to see their son play football, on the other side of the bridge.