Luke Cain's Syracuse story: Matt's Memo

Luke Cain.

A preview of the incoming class of 2002 for Syracuse football featured three names. Damien Rhodes, the standout running back from Fayetteville-Manlius, Perry Patterson, the quarterback, and Luke Cain, the Superprep All-American defensive back from Washington D.C. Orange fans likely remember Rhodes and Patterson more than Cain. He did play a lot and had some standout games. He came up a semester short of graduating. Ten years later our reporter Jim Kenyon found Cain panhandling on the streets of downtown Syracuse.

Cain's story has struck a chord in our community and beyond. Earlier this fall the plight of the homeless was in the news on two occassions when people living on the street were killed. One by fire, the other after being assaulted. In both cases, the general public did not know the people involved until after their tragic ending. In the case of Luke Cain we have a rare opportunity to learn about the person before there is a terrible ending. Even more importantly there is a chance to develop a strategy that might put Cain's life on a better path.

Former teammate Derrell Smith looked up to Cain when he first arrived on campus as a young player. Cain was the upperclassman who taught Smith the lessons of linebacking and college. Smith acknowledged that even during those years Cain's life was not an easy one. He came from inner city poverty and a home beyond broken in D.C. Smith now wants to find a way to help.

So does Jim Jerome the head of the Letterman's Club of former Syracuse University football players. Jim said today, "Thank God for Jim Kenyon." We do that every day in our newsroom, but this is a special case where Jim's telling of Luke's story shed light on a person in need of medical and perhaps mental assistance.

We do not yet know where Luke Cain's life will take him. Can he be helped? Was it a head injury that changed his course? Is it a mental health issue? He appears willing to try to improve his life. He appears happy that his football brotherhood is stepping up.

He bears little resemblance to the Superprep All-American label he was once given, yet he is once again in the spotlight.

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