Ryan Fesko was a 22-year-old senior at The College of New Jersey, an all-star basketball player this past season. He wanted to become a coach and physical education teacher and idolized his cousin, Blazer veteran Chris Dudley. Fesko was the grandson of the brother of Dudley's grandmother.
In the wee hours of Saturday morning, minutes after leaving a club where hundreds of students celebrated graduation and the end of the school year, Fesko was involved in a one-car crash on a rain-slicked highway that took his life and that of two of his friends. Two others in the vehicle remain in critical condition.
When Dudley played for New York from 1997-2000, Fesko and his family would attend Knicks games in Philadelphia. Dudley got to know Fesko better when the youth volunteered to serve as a counselor at his annual summer camp for children with diabetes in Vernonia a couple of years ago.
'He was a good kid with a great heart,' Dudley says. 'What an unbelievable tragedy Ñ such a good person, and so young.'
• Erik Ainge is going to play big-time college ball. The question: football or basketball?
The Glencoe High junior is drawing plenty of attention in both sports. Oregon State already has offered a scholarship for football, offers from Arizona and Michigan State are on the way, and the 6-51/2, 190-pound quarterback is sure to have plenty more opportunities after showing well in the 700-player Nike combine at Stanford University last week.
Trouble is, the nephew of Danny Ainge also is a standout basketball player involved with two Oregon prep all-star teams playing in national tournaments this spring and summer. A fine pitcher, he gave up baseball this year to concentrate on the other two sports.
Which sport does Erik like better?
'Depends what season it is,' says his father, Doug, a top athlete at Linfield during his playing days.
Oregon, OSU and Stanford are on Ainge's short list for football, but there could be additions. All of the Pacific-10 Conference schools are interested in him to play basketball, his father says.
Erik, who doesn't turn 17 until next month, is keeping his options open and probably will wait until the late signing period next year before deciding.
'He is just going to enjoy being a high school kid for a while,' Doug Ainge says. 'Have fun playing football, have fun playing basketball Ñ and somewhere in there, make a decision.'
• Sacramento co-owner Joe Maloof tells the Sacramento Bee he regrets saying he would not stand in the way of General Manager Geoff Petrie interviewing for the Blazers' vacant president and general manager positions. Petrie is bound contractually to the Kings for at least two more years.
'The more I think about it, it's going to take a lot for us to be willing to lose Geoff Petrie,' Maloof says. 'Geoff is a Sacramento King, and we have a wonderful relationship. He is like a part of our family. É We have so much respect for Geoff; we want him to be happy.' At the same time, he says, it's not going to be easy for the Blazers to secure Petrie's services.
• A name that could be in the mix to run the business side of the Blazer organization: Tod Leiweke. Leiweke worked with the Vancouver Grizzlies and Golden State Warriors before moving on to the NHL, where he is chief operating officer and president of the Minnesota Wild.
Also said to be on the Blazer shortlist: Kevin O'Connor, Utah Jazz VP of basketball operations.
• Did you catch Rasheed Wallace on MTV's 'Cribs' set last weekend?
Viewers learned plenty of things about the Blazers' Mr. T. A couple of nuggets: He is such a big sports fan, he has SportsTicker in his game room. Among his fleet of cars is a Ford Bronco. 'A lot of my teammates call me O.J.,' he says.
• Peter Jacobsen espouses the idea of lowering the age limit for the Champions Tour from 50 to 45.
'There are good players you promote for years on the (PGA) tour,' says the Portland golfer, who turns 50 next March. 'Then by age 44 or so, it's like, 'Go have a seat, and we will call you in six years for the Champions Tour.' Why have that break?'