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Four years later, remembering Marquise Hill

LSU's Marquise Hill made "the hit" on Oklahoma's Jason White as part of the Tigers' first BCS title win.LSU's Marquise Hill made "the hit" on Oklahoma's Jason White as part of the Tigers' first BCS title win.It is hard to believe he will have been gone four years this Saturday.

That’s when the body of former LSU and De la Salle star Marquise Hill was discovered near the Seabrook Bridge where the Industrial Canal meets Lake Ponchartrain.

Hill and a friend were on a jet ski. They capsized. Neither was wearing a life jacket. Hill saved the young lady’s life before he lost his own, swept away in the current.

I have interviewed thousands of athletes. This young man was unique.

I remember the day when his high school coach Darren Barbier told me to come interview this 14 year old freshman. At the time, Hill was just a big baby.

His high school years flew by as time often does. Three years later, Marquise invited me to the school library were he announced his college choice. Hill said he was going to LSU. His reason?  “Because,” said Hill, “Pete Jenkins (then LSU defensive line coach) can get me to the National Football League.” I thought to myself, that is a smart young man.

Three years later, Hill delivered one of the signature hits of the Sugar Bowl. He floored Oklahoma quarterback Jason White. The hit rattled the Superdome. Hill and the Tigers won the BCS national championship.

One year later, the rookie second round pick of the New England Patriots was part of a world championship team. Marquise called me that spring when he returned to town. He pulled up in front of the World Trade Center, hopped out of his truck and proudly displayed his Super Bowl ring.

In the television interview that followed, I asked Hill how he was adjusting to life in New England. Said Marquise, “Eddie, there is no Tony Chachere’s. All they want to eat is clam chowder.”

We stayed in touch in the years that followed. Whenever his mom Sherry had some news on her son, she would call.

The call I received on Memorial Day morning 2007 was one I will never forget. Marquise Hill was missing and presumed dead.

Days later, at Hill’s funeral, the church in central city was packed. I can still remember the look on the face of Hill’s mother. That look said it all. Her baby, her life was gone.

We are told to never question God’s will. But that day it was hard. A single mom who had raised her son well and sacrificed much was dealt the cruelest of blows.

During the football season, and especially on Saturday visits to Baton Rouge, I think of number 94. He was once on that field, full of life, playing for one of the great football programs in America.

And, in an instant, he was gone.

Four years later, I still very much miss Marquise Hill.

Video from LSU Athletics