Rams on Stedman Bailey after shooting: 'That's basically our brother'

ByNick Wagoner ESPN logo
Thursday, November 26, 2015

EARTH CITY, Mo. -- The St. Louis Rams went through practice Wednesday with heavy hearts after learning receiver Stedman Baileyhad been shot on Tuesday night in Miami Gardens, Florida.

After the practice, Rams coach Jeff Fisher informed his team and media that Bailey was out of surgery after an extended period and resting in the intensive care unit at a South Florida hospital.

Fisher was unsure of the specifics of Bailey's surgery but offered a slight update.

"We're just waiting to get some more information on the specifics of the injury," Fisher said. "There's a lot out there. There's a lot of rumors that there were two or three shots and an injury to the hip. I don't have specifics right now, but what I can tell you is that he's in stable condition. He'll be in ICU for a number of days. It's really unlikely, highly unlikely, that he returns to play this year."

The City of Miami Gardens Police Department confirmed Wednesday morning that Bailey was shot while sitting in a car around 8:45 p.m. ET on Tuesday. ESPN's Josina Anderson reported that Bailey was shot in the head twice.

Police said Bailey's cousin, Antwan Reeves, and three others were in the car when another vehicle drove by and fired shots, police said. Reeves also was shot and was taken into surgery Tuesday night. The three others, two of whom were minors, were unharmed, according to police.

Fisher said he found out about the shooting Tuesday night, but he thought the fact that Rams medical staff spoke to Bailey and that the surgery could wait until Wednesday morning were signs that Bailey's injuries were not life-threatening.

"Whether you're a coach or you're a father or you're a family member, anytime something like that happens, it's very, very difficult," Fisher said. "The one thing that gave us hope last night was that we were able to get in touch with Sted at the hospital and there was a conversation that took place. So, that gave us hope that he would pull through this and this was not life-threatening. That's kind of what gave us hope through the evening."

Some Rams players began hearing rumors of Bailey's situation on Tuesday night and others didn't hear until they woke up Wednesday morning. The first instinct for many was to hope that it wasn't true.

"Yeah, you hope it's a rumor," end Chris Long said. "You hear crazy stuff all the time on the Internet, but pretty soon after that rumor started everybody started texting each other and everybody genuinely cares about Stedman. He is a great dude, he's a great teammate and we're just praying for him. At the end of the day, that's stuff way bigger than football. This is the health of a teammate; this is the livelihood of a teammate. You just pray that he'll get through it and come out of it on the other end even better."

"That's basically our brother," defensive end William Hayes said. "Only thing we can do is just pray for him and just stay strong for him. We spend a lot of time with each other, so I look at him as a brother. I tell him,Tavon (Austin), everybody in here I love them every day before I go home. It's justthe reality of life. I don't even know the situation, to be honest with you, so I can't even say make better decisions or what. It just sucks."

Upon arrival at Rams Park on Wednesday, Fisher informed the team of what happened and provided as many details as possible. Fisher made it clear that if any of his players needed somebody to talk to, that could be done and there were procedures for anyone who might need some help or have more questions.

After the usual pre-practice stretch, pastor Michael Hansen led the team in prayer. When the nearly two-hour practice was over, Fisher informed the team that Bailey was out of surgery and in the ICU.

Multiple players said knowing what was going on with Bailey, even if there were no details on what happened, helped them get through the day.

"I think initially you are kind of just down wondering if he's all right," linebacker James Laurinaitis said. "Once you hear he's doing well, there's kind of just a big exhale."

Bailey is still serving a four-game suspension for violation of the league's policy on substance abuse. Although Fisher said that the league would allow Bailey to stay in St. Louis and train at the facility during his suspension, Bailey made the decision to go back to Miami.

"He was working out down there and I was fine with that," Fisher said.

Bailey grew up in Miramar, Florida, about seven miles from Miami Gardens. According to Rams center Demetrius Rhaney, who grew up in nearby Fort Lauderdale, the Miami Gardens area has a reputation for being dangerous.

"I'm from Fort Lauderdale, just 10 minutes from where he was," Rhaney said. "It's pretty dangerous up that way. I don't really go that way, period. I don't have any family out there so I try to stay out of Miami as much as possible. Everything goes on there. The graveyard is full down there. It's crazy down there.

"It just hurts to the heart. You're hoping he pulls through, comes out fine and he's back here with us."

Multiple Rams also mentioned how thankful they are that Bailey appears to be OK as the Thanksgiving holiday approaches. And though some of them pointed out how difficult it can be to focus with so much going on, Bailey's shooting helps keep things in perspective.

"I'm sure Sted will be OK, I'm sure he's going to want us to go out and play as hard as we can for him," Kendricks said. "That's what we're going to do. We all look at it as an opportunity to kind of gather together, play for each other, play for him and just go out and play a good game."

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