High school coach recovering after being shot

August 17, 2010 4:26:22 AM PDT
The coach of the Aldine High School football team is improving after he was shot this weekend in a carjacking. His players and fellow coaches are hoping he recovers soon. His team is set to go back to practice this week without him. The players will have their first official practice since Coach Lionel Crawford was injured and they say on Monday, they'll focus on what the coach has always taught them to get them through this.

Team captain O'Ryan Wiley spent the weekend thinking about the man who leads the mighty Mustangs.

"Nobody would ever expect it to happen to us," said Wiley. "Nobody thought it would be our head coach. It took us by storm."

Investigators say initial information was that Crawford was pumping gas at a north side service station Friday when he was shot in his side, but they now say he tells them a different story. Crawford reportedly pulled into the parking lot of the Scottish Inn Motel on Rankin Road to use a restroom. He says he was then approached by a man and was shot. It's unclear if the suspect was after his car or maybe cash.

"I kind of took it really hard emotionally when I heard about it," said team captain and senior defensive tackle Galen Nailor.

The Aldine alum is now out of ICU at Ben Taub Hospital, but his family says he still isn't talking and is under heavy medication. Wiley made a brief visit to the hospital Saturday.

"Right now, it's time for our leaders to step up and help us, rally together as a football team and stay close like a close knit family," he said.

Family members say before becoming a coach, he played at University of Wisconsin and for Green Bay, and coming back to Aldine a couple of years ago was a true homecoming. But now the lessons he has taught his players both on and off the field are being put to the test.

"He's in our prayers and we are going to use what you taught us -- to fight through adversity and dedicate this season to him," said Wiley.

So from the weight room to a very rainy afternoon on the practice field, the mental aspect of what the team is enduring is just as trying as every physical drill.

"They're pretty resilient; they are focused; they know we have a job at hand," assistant coach and defensive coordinator Kerry Bamburg said. "They know that's what Coach Crawford would want; he doesn't want to be a distraction."

Relatives say Crawford loves the game and while the timeline for his recovery is unclear, they say you can bet he'll be on the sidelines as soon as he can, even if it's on crutches or in a wheelchair.

Meanwhile, his players are wishing him the best.

"Coach you are in our prayers right now, I wish you the best of luck, I'm praying for you, you're staying in my heart coach," co-captain and quarterback Jordan Moore said.

Assistant Coach Kerry Bamburg will take temporary control of the team. Counselors will be available to students and staff.

The Aldine Mustangs have their first scrimmage of the year on Friday against Westfield.

Police are still searching for the shooter. If you have any information of the case, call Crime Stoppers at 713-222-TIPS.

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