No one knows what went through Berry's mind after she left. He wrote a suicide note that, according to one source, said Valerie didn't love him and was taking advantage of him. But none of Berry's friends had noticed any changes in his behavior. He seemed as happy as ever. He was a rising NBA star in the second year of a three-year, $1 million contract. And he was eagerly preparing for training camp, lifting weights to build up his wispy physique.
Berry once described himself as "impulsive." His suicide—so baffling to those who knew him—may have been the impulsive act of a suddenly distraught young man with a handgun at his disposal. "Anybody who is a high achiever and wants to become the best at something might blow things out of perspective," says Julie Perlman, executive officer of the American Association of Suicidology in Denver. Clearly, something had happened to Berry that, in Perlman's words, "put him beyond the limits of feeling that he could handle his life anymore."
In the days before his death, Berry put on a basketball camp for underprivileged kids and was honored at the state capitol for his work in the community. "Ricky did more than just teach the kids how to play basketball," says Derrell Roberts, director of the Sacramento Urban League. "He would talk to the kids—really talk to them—not just as a basketball player but as a young person who could relate to what they were going through."
KING OF THE K'S
Going into his scheduled start on Tuesday night against the Oakland A's, Texas Rangers pitcher Nolan Ryan had struck out 4,994 batters. Just to whet your appetite for the complete list of his victims beginning on page 30—a list painstakingly put together by Rangers assistant media relations director Larry Kelly—consider some of the trivia it contains:
•Ryan has fanned 13 players named Davis (Alvin, Bob, Brock, Chili, Dick, Eric, Jody, Mark, Mike, Ron, Tommy, Trench and Willie).
•He has struck out 42 MVPs and 17 Hall of Famers (but couldn't fan Willie Mays the three times he faced him).
•His victims include six father-son combinations (the Alomars, Bondses, Franconas, Griffeys, Schofields and Willses) and 10 brother combos (all three Alous and the Bretts, Browns, Cruzes, Gwynns, Mays, Murrays, Nettleses, Niekros and Ripkens).
•He struck out Rangers general manager Tom Grieve eight times but never fanned manager Bobby Valentine.
Who do you think went down on strikes more often against Ryan: Hank Aaron or Danny Ainge? Answer: He got them both four times.