SU football star reduced to panhandling in downtown Syracuse

Luke Cain pictured in 2006 (L) and in 2012 (R).

For three years, Louis "Luke" Cain was a star linebacker for the Syracuse University football team, but he is now a panhandler in downtown Syracuse.

Cain told CNY Central's Jim Kenyon that he has been asking for handouts from passersby on the corner of Jefferson and Warren Streets for the past year and a half. He lives at the Oxford Inn shelter for homeless men.

Only a handful of people know of his past as an athlete. According to Syracuse University records, Cain played linebacker from 2004 through 2006.

Cain told Kenyon that he had received a full athletic scholarship but fell "5 classes short of obtaining his degree in Child and Family Studies." He said he aspired to become a counselor for children or a statistician. Cain says he returned to his home in Washington but when his mother died two years ago, he did not want to burden his father, 4 sisters, and two brothers so he returned to Syracuse and a life on the streets.

Cain says on a good day, he will make up to $50.00 in handouts.

Cain has problems with his communication skills and memory, so it is unclear exactly what caused him to end up homeless and begging for money on the streets of Syracuse.

At one point he told Kenyon he suffered a brain injury, and later he claimed he said someone placed "something in my drink and it affected me."

Cain smiles when he talks about his football career. In his 2006 senior year, Cain played in all 12 games, starting in 11. In a game against West Virginia, he registered six tackles and forced a fumble. Against Wyoming, he registered a season-best eight tackles and recorded the second sack of his career.

S.U. Spokesperson Sue Edson confirmed the University tried to assist Cain and helped to place him at the Oxford Inn. Edson says the University often works with student athletes to help them complete their degrees.

Robert Galante who owns "Burger Cuse" on Warren Street says he often will provide food for Cain. Galante says he was surprised to learn of Cain's past as an S.U. Linebacker.

James LaBounty says he often sees Cain standing on the corner of Jefferson and Warren. "It's really sad to see what happened to him. He needs help."

After seeing this report, former Syracuse University football players from across the nation are banding together to help Cain.