Nedu Onyeuku graduated from ISU in 2006 after playing two seasons for the Redbirds. (Photo courtesy of goredbirds.com)
By Bryan Bloodworth
NORMAL - Former Illinois State University athletes were shocked to learn about the violent death of former teammate and friend Nedu Onyeuku.
Former Redbird basketball player Neil Plank remembers Onyeuku as a "happy-go-lucky guy who liked to joke around."
The 29-year-old Onyeuku, who played for the Redbirds from 2004 to 2006, was fatally shot while breaking into a home last week, according to police in Plano, Texas.
Onyeuku was a 6-foot-3 guard who started his senior year for then-coach Porter Moser and averaged 7.3 points and 2.4 rebounds.
"He was a good basketball player and teammate," said Plank, who was in the starting lineup with the Nigerian native. "He had unbelievable athleticism that could ignite the arena. This is a very unfortunate situation and my thoughts are with Nedu's family."
Onyeuku transferred to ISU from Iowa Western Community College. His roommate was Dana Ford, who is now an ISU men's basketball associate head coach. Ford was shocked to hear the news of Onyeuku's violent death and involvement in a reported crime.
"Obviously, it's a tragedy," said Ford. "I feel sorry for his entire family, but really for his two sons who have to grow up without a father."
"From a personal standpoint, Nedu was my friend and it was shocking for me to hear how he was killed," he added.
Ford said family will hold a visitation for Onyeuku tonight in Omaha where he grew up. A church service is planned for Saturday.
Beth Whisman contributed to this report.
Bryan can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.