The Storms had come before, howling tempests in the brain that filled Anthony Sherrod's head with thunder and made his heart feel as if it were about to explode. But the storm on Tuesday, April 10—the last Tuesday of his life-was outside, and as Sherrod sat watching television, rain lashed at his windows and a black funnel cloud was sighted not far from his apartment in College Park, Ga., a suburb of Atlanta. The wind blew and the lightning crashed in distant cannonade, but Sherrod felt nothing.
A little less than two weeks earlier, Sherrod had watched on television as his former teammates at Georgia Tech lost to UNLV in the Final Four. Sherrod had missed Tech's dream season by a year, having already used up his eligibility, but it might as well have been a century. The excitement of the NCAA tournament was at some remove from his own particular March madness of mounting bills, a newborn baby and his claim that he was having academic problems that would prevent him from graduating.
"We got in the NCAA tournament, and I guess we kind of lost track of him," says guard Dennis Scott, the Yellow Jackets' leading scorer this season. "We didn't know where his mind was."
On the night of April 10, Sherrod's mind was three days ahead as he and his cousin June Powell watched the movie Jesus of Nazareth on TV. "We were talking about Good Friday," says Powell. "I said, 'If Jesus Christ could endure the pain of the crucifixion, then you can take the pain of some of the little things like not passing a class.' "
Sherrod seemed to find deeper meaning in his cousin's observation, repeating the words "Good Friday" over and over. "It had some sort of effect on Anthony," says his mother, Johnnie Mae, "the sight of Christ bearing the cross."
When Powell awoke that Friday morning, she heard a voice on the radio say that it was both Good Friday and Friday the 13th. "It's going to be a beautiful day as long as you're not superstitious," said the voice.
However, even the dawn couldn't break the black storm that was at that moment raging inside Sherrod's head. He had driven around much of the night, his ears ringing with the voices that frequently tormented him. Now he stood in a clearing of a wooded area less than a mile from the apartment he shared with Powell and another cousin, Annie Johnson. He had a .357 Magnum revolver in his right hand. The last thing Sherrod heard was the roar of the storm as it blew out the left side of his head.
When Powell and Johnson went to Sherrod's room later that day, they found his Bible open to The First Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Thessalonians. Chapter 5 was circled in ink:
For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them...and they shall not escape.... For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him.
Wedged between the pages was a small color photograph of Sherrod's family and a newspaper column in which Sherrod had underlined a long quotation from Larry Bird about the virtues of hard work and shooting the last shot. Throughout the Bible, Sherrod had scattered a number of horoscopes for Pisces, which was his birth sign. "He was real superstitious," says his mother. "He didn't like it if a black cat crossed in front of him while he was driving down the road. He would put an X on his windshield, or turn around and go the other way."