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Sherrod, who was 23 when he died, used astrology and religion almost interchangeably to deal with the crosses he had to bear. Yet had those crosses not been colored by a manic-depressive illness-thought to be genetic in origin and possibly brought on by stress—Sherrod might be alive today. "He would worry about things, lie awake nights thinking about things you or I wouldn't give a second thought to," says Georgia Tech assistant coach Bruce Dalrymple.
For all of Sherrod's amiability, the litany of his problems became a source of frustration to his friends. "He seemed like something was always bothering him," says guard Brian Domalik, one of Sherrod's closest friends on the Tech basketball team.
Even when the first indication of trouble finally came, there was nothing terribly alarming about it. After starting at forward against North Carolina State in February 1989, his senior season, Sherrod felt he had played poorly. Following the game, he drove to his cousins' apartment (he had not yet moved in with them) and marinated his problems in vodka. While driving back to his dorm that night, he was arrested for driving under the influence. When Domalik and Sherrod's roommate, forward Willie Reese, went to the Jackson County jail to bail him out, Sherrod was making claims to other inmates about his father's membership in the Mafia. "By the time we got him out, he was even talking about leading a jailbreak," says Domalik. Sherrod was suspended from the team for three games, and the matter was more or less forgotten.
Like most players who have been the stars of their high school teams, Sherrod, who played at Jenkins County High in Millen, Ga., expected to have far more good moments than bad ones playing college basketball. "Anthony was big stuff in Millen," says Powell. "But when he got to Atlanta, he was on the same level with a whole bunch of guys."
As a freshman, the 6'7" Sherrod showed up for practice weighing nearly 210 pounds, 25 pounds more than his high school playing weight. "When Coach saw him," says Reese, "he said this wasn't the guy he recruited." Sherrod averaged 4.42 minutes a game and scored only 49 points during his first two seasons with the Yellow Jackets.
"He is probably the closest thing we had to a local hero," says Ray Miller, the coach at Jenkins County High, where Sherrod still holds the career scoring record of 1,382 points. "It was really tough on him his freshman year at Tech. He had started every game he'd ever played in, had all these college coaches telling him how great he was. Then he wasn't even playing. I'd pass people in the street, and they'd ask, 'Why isn't Anthony playing more?' "
"I think he felt like he had so many people to please," says Johnnie Mac. "It seemed like he always wanted the approval of other people. Anthony was concerned about what the community thought of him."
Sherrod, in fact, had never wanted to attend Georgia Tech. He went there because he thought that his family and his friends expected him to do so. "Anthony wanted to do what Anthony was supposed to do," says Crystal Griffin, the mother of Sherrod's six-month-old son, Christopher.
What an impostor he must have felt like when Tech coach Bobby Cremins suggested that he transfer to a smaller school following his sophomore year. "I told him I didn't think he could start here," says Cremins. "He wanted to play in the NBA, and I told him I didn't think that was in the cards for him."
Sherrod was desperate to play, and he might well have thrived at a smaller school. However, he would never have left Georgia Tech because he wasn't good enough. How could he have faced the people back in Millen? "I think if he had transferred he would have thought of that as failing," says Miller.