By Nikolai Valuev, 32, his WBA heavyweight belt, with a third-round knockout of
Owen Beck. The 7-foot, 321-pound Russian (44--0) floored the smaller Jamaican
(Beck was giving up 101/2 inches and 80 pounds) with a right uppercut. "My
family wanted me to knock him out today; that's why I did it," said Valuev
(above, and with promoter Don King in inset). Beck (25--3) was able to find a
silver lining. "I wanted to go home with the WBA title, but at least I came
out still walking," he said. "I didn't go into the ambulance."
At age 30 of unknown causes, Brad Martin, a former BYU football captain.
Martin, a linebacker, injured his neck in a car accident during his senior
season. He used painkillers to continue playing, but after his career ended he
became addicted to them. In 2004 he sued the school for providing the
painkillers and allowing him to play through his pain. (The suit was settled
out of court.) An autopsy was inconclusive, and toxicology results are pending.
"We don't really know what happened," his father, Robert Martin, said.
"It just came so unexpectedly to us."
At age 55 after suffering a massive stroke, Eric Gregg, a former major league
umpire. Gregg was one of baseball's most recognizable men in blue for two
decades. He fought a weight problem for much of his career, and his wide strike
zone helped Florida's Livan Hernandez controversially strike out 15 Braves in
the 1997 NLCS. Gregg lost his job in 1999 when he and 21 other umpires resigned
in a failed labor negotiation ploy, but he was still something of a celebrity
in his hometown of Philadelphia. He owned a stake in a restaurant at Citizens
Bank Ballpark, where he poured beer--and often playfully ejected
customers--before Phillies games.
By Duke, its embattled men's lacrosse team. The school canceled the remainder
of its season on March 28, two weeks after a stripper accused several players
of raping her at an off-campus party. (Three players have been indicted; all
have pleaded not guilty.) At the time, the Blue Devils, who went to the 2005
NCAA finals, were ranked No. 1 in the nation. School president Richard D.
Brodhead said the program would operate under scrutiny. "I am, I know,
taking a risk in reinstating men's lacrosse," Brodhead said in a statement.
"The reinstatement is inevitably probationary."
By 13-year-old Kerry Close (above), the word ursprache to win the 79th Scripps
National Spelling Bee. Kerry, an eighth-grader from Spring Lake, N.J., was
making her fifth straight appearance at the tournament. After runner-up Finola
Hackett, a 14-year-old from Edmonton, stumbled on weltschmerz (which means
sentimental pessimism), Kerry correctly spelled kundalini (a yogic life force)
and ursprache (a parent language). Kerry, who won $42,500 in cash and prizes,
began competitive spelling in the fourth grade, when she won her class bee.
"My teacher gave me a list for the school spelling bee, and I won that
too," she says. "I was like, Wow, I'm pretty good at this."
No contest to two misdemeanor charges of assault and battery, Sean Taylor. The
Redskins' linebacker was sentenced to 18 months' probation for his part in an
incident last summer in which he allegedly waved a gun at a group of people he
thought stole two ATVs from him in Miami. He had been charged with three
felonies and faced 46 years in prison before agreeing to the plea deal. Last
Thursday circuit judge Leonard Glick warned Taylor, "If you get caught
spitting on the sidewalk ... you violate your probation." ( Taylor was
thrown out of a game in January for spitting on a Buccaneers player.) His plea
could lead to a fine or suspension from the NFL under the league's personal
For six games for going into the stands during a game, Mavericks center D.J.
Mbenga. During Game 4 of the Western Conference finals in Phoenix, Mbenga, who
was on the bench in street clothes after being inactivated for the game,
noticed Dallas coach Avery Johnson's wife arguing with some Suns fans. He tried
to defuse the situation, which led to lenience from the league. "We ended
up at six [games] because D.J. certainly went up there very calmly and there
was not an altercation of any kind," NBA VP Stu Jackson said.
By Hall of Fame broadcaster Bob Uecker (below), a restraining order against a
woman he says has been harassing him for years. Uecker, 71, the voice of the
Brewers for 35 years, obtained an injunction against Ann E. Ladd, a 45-year-old
woman from Prospect Heights, Ill., whom he accused of sending unsolicited
gifts, driving around his home and harassing him on the road. "Ladd's
pattern of harassment has escalated in frequency and intensity and has resulted
in repeated and serious invasions of my personal privacy," Uecker's
injunction request said.
An effort by a Russian astronaut on the International Space Station to hit the
longest drive in history. Pavel Vinogradov planned to hit a ball into orbit
during a space walk last week as part of a promotion with a Canadian golf
company to mark the 35th anniversary of Alan Shepard's lunar golfing foray. But
the stunt, which would have seen a ball knocked into a three-year orbit, was
called off, possibly over fears that the ball could damage the station. The
drive is expected to be attempted on a later mission.
That it will convene a focus group to come up with a new mascot, George Mason
University. That's bad news for Gunston, the generic furry green beast who
became a star during the Patriots' run to the Final Four. "We need to
develop a mascot with a strong image, more of an immediate connection with
George Mason, something our community would be proud to have," associate AD
Andy Ruge told The Washington Post. "It would be nice if a freshman could
see him and go, 'Hey, that's our mascot' instead of going, 'What's that?'"
Gunston, who had been the mascot for 10 years, will still represent the school,
primarily at youth events.