Body of American basketball player found in Brazil Print
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Monday, 19 November 2007 09:40
NCAAB Headline News


 SAO PAULO, Brazil (AP) -The body of a former Washington State basketball player was found in a dense thicket in central Brazil, police said Monday, two weeks after he was reported missing.
Police spokesman Norton Luiz said by telephone that police found the body of Tony Harris on Sunday after an anonymous tip. Harris was playing for Universo, a professional team based in Brasilia, the country's capital.
Harris, who would have turned 37 Sunday, played on the 1994 Washington State team that made it to the East Regional of the NCAA tournament.
The body was ``slumped against a tree in an Army training ground and with the shoelace of one of his sneakers wrapped around his neck,'' Luiz said. ``We believe he may have committed suicide because it appears the body fell from one of the tree's branches, although we are not ruling out homicide.''
He said the state of the body indicates that Harris died about five days before he was found near the small town of Formosa.
Luiz said Harris' father-in-law and a family friend had arrived in Goiania, capital of Goias state, to make a positive identification of the body, which should be flown back to the United States in a few days for burial.
The American embassy confirmed the arrival of the father-in-law and friend but declined further comment until the body is positively identified.
Harris was reported missing Nov. 4, three days after his debut as a shooting guard for the Brazilian team, said Jorge Bastos, one of Universo's directors.
``According to some of the other players, Harris appeared to be nervous and overly anxious about something,'' Bastos said by telephone. ``But he never said what was bothering him.''
Harris played on the state championship teams at Garfield High School in Seattle. After college, he played in Asia and South America, including a previous stint in Brazil.
He returned to Seattle and recently worked as a counselor at Echo Glen, a juvenile rehabilitation facility. But that job ended when he was not hired permanently in February, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported.
The player's wife told the Seattle Times last week that her husband sounded anxious in his first phone call to her after arriving in Brazil.
Lori Harris, who is expected to give birth to the couple's first child in December, said that the last time Harris played in Brazil, ``he didn't leave on good terms.''
``He heard that his old coach said some things that were not true, (things) that could put him at risk.''
She told the newspaper her husband couldn't leave because the team was holding his passport, so he planned to stay with a friend in northern Brazil and wait for a replacement.
The team would not immediately confirm it was holding Harris' passport.
One of the last people believed to have seen Harris alive was the taxi driver who said he was driving him from Goiania to the northeastern city of Salvador, the Goias State Police Department said in a statement posted on its Web site.
The driver said Harris disappeared when they stopped in Formosa to refuel, leaving behind a laptop and his clothes. The Web site said Harris apparently planned to take a bus from Salvador to visit a friend in the city of Natal.
Lori Harris said she last heard from her husband about two weeks ago, when he was on the way to the friend's house.
He used a Brazilian taxi driver's cell phone on his last call to his wife. He told her he loved her and would talk to her later, she told the Seattle Times.
 

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