ShAMELESS PLUGS and other stuff
New Vikings back Latavius Murray trying to do big things on and off the field to honor slain best friend
As the sun singed exposed skin and the aroma of the annual Vikings alumni cookout wafted over the practice fields, Latavius Murray watched his new team wrap up its final spring practice.
Standing there on the sideline at Winter Park, in his No. 25 jersey, his mind drifted elsewhere.
Back in upstate New York, where Murray spent the majority of his childhood, a tense murder trial was in its early stages in a powder keg of a courtroom. The victim of the November shooting in Syracuse was his best friend, Jonathan Diaz.
The trial brought painful memories rushing back. Murray was still trying to come to terms with his friend’s death seven months later. But he mustered a happy face at Winter Park while chatting with teammates. A couple hours later, when he sat down with a reporter at Bonfire in Eden Prairie, the mention of Diaz turned him somber.
“You’re used to talking to somebody every day, telling him everything and you spent so much time with a person, and then they’re just not there,” Murray said after his lunch of broiled halibut and asparagus was long gone. ”You can call their phone and they don’t answer. It’s an unreal feeling. It still doesn’t feel real.”
Murray has stiff-armed adversity throughout his life, but he had never experienced heartbreak like this before. So he has resolved that any time he carries the ball this season for the Vikings, who coveted him for his straightforward running style and his big heart, he will be driving his legs for Diaz and pushing the pile in his memory.
“Knowing him, he wanted ‘Tay Train’ to be a household name,” said Murray, who wore on his wrist a black rubber bracelet stamped with that nickname. “He wanted to invent or create something that changed the world. He wanted to do something that nobody would forget. So everything now that I do, I try to do it for him, too.”
Read the rest of the story at StarTribune.com…