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There was a moment when Sherrod must have known he was not a complete failure, a defining moment that would follow him for as long as he trod on Georgia clay. A photograph of that moment ran in newspapers all over the state the next day. It showed Sherrod turning to run upcourt after having tipped in the winning basket to give the Yellow Jackets a 78-77 victory over archrival Georgia, in December 1987. Almost everyone else in the picture—cheerleaders, players, even a referee—has arms raised in triumph. In the middle of the frame stands Sherrod—a look of supreme sadness on his face, arms stretched horizontal, left foot over right-in ungainly repose. In the greatest moment of his life, Sherrod looked like Christ crucified.
Buoyed by the modest success of his junior season, Sherrod considered redshirting as a senior—an almost unheard-of practice—to propel himself into the pros with what he hoped would be a final season filled with heroics. "I think he was tired of seeing things happen to other people and thinking they should be happening to him," says Dalrymple. "There's huge pressure to succeed in college athletics. When an athlete's four years are up and he doesn't make the pros, he becomes a nobody."
Sherrod would not allow himself to become a nobody. "He really didn't want to go back to Millen," says Reese. "Sherrod always wanted to be real, real special. He wanted to be the guy who came from the small town and made it in the big city. He didn't want to go back. He told me, 'There's nothing for me back there.' "
Sherrod wound up averaging 3.2 points and 2.0 rebounds a game for Georgia Tech, but when his career was over, he could not let go of the idea that his talents would flourish in the NBA. "Anthony was obsessed with playing in the NBA," says Domalik. "He used to get up at five or six in the morning and run, lift weights, then play basketball all day. He was always wanting to call the pros to see if he could get a tryout. He felt he never got a fair chance at Tech. I don't know how many times I sat with him in my room while he would talk about that. Then he would cry and cry and cry."
"He was living a dream," says Scott. "He wanted to be a superstar. He used to watch NBA players, see them driving fancy cars, wearing fancy clothes, and he always wanted to have that, to be part of that crowd. You've got to have reality along with confidence, and reality was just something Anthony couldn't face."
Sherrod, who was still on scholarship after he had stopped playing, continued to attend school at Tech last year, and one spring night, while he and Domalik were out for a drive, a car nearly hit Sherrod's. Sherrod shouted something at the driver. According to Domalik, the other car pulled alongside, and the man behind the wheel pulled out a gun and shot at them twice. Somehow, both shots missed Sherrod's car entirely. Shortly thereafter he bought a .38-calibcr revolver, which he kept under the seat of his car.
Sherrod fired the gun several times out his car window while driving on the interstate after a night of drinking with Domalik and the teetotaling Reese. "This is a nice gun, isn't it?" said Sherrod as he started blasting away into the early morning sky near the southern perimeter of Hartsfield International Airport.
It was the same gun that Cremins would take from him in November, when Sherrod showed up at Cremins's house one day. Several days later, after not having eaten or slept in a few days, Sherrod ran more than eight miles and then collapsed on Domalik's bed. "This kid looked like he was going to die, he'd lost so much weight," says Domalik. "I gave him a hug and said, 'Anthony, that's it. We've got to get you some help.' I took him to Coach Cremins's office, and he lay down on the floor and cried."
Sherrod was taken to Parkwood Psychiatric Hospital, where his condition was diagnosed as an acute manic episode. "It was like a nightmare to him," says Dr. Ben Eubanks, the psychiatrist who treated him. "He was extremely disorganized, confused, psychotic, delusional, suspicious and paranoid. But he was aware that his thinking was wrong. His preoccupying thoughts were, Am I going crazy? and Will I be O.K.?"
Domalik visited Sherrod every one of the 10 days he was in the hospital. "I know one thing," says Domalik. "Anthony didn't want to go back in that hospital. He hated it. He had never been around people who were mentally ill. None of us had. The people who were in there knew he was normal. People would start shouting for no reason, and Anthony would just put his arm around them."