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Osburn remembered for enthusiasm, friendship


Arizona Daily Wildcat

By Chris Martin
Arizona Daily Wildcat,
July 19, 2000
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Arizona Summer Wildcat

UA mourns the loss of sophomore infielder

Life turned tragic for the Arizona community Monday as junior Kelsey Osburn, an infielder for the baseball team, died in Rochester, N.Y. at 9:20 p.m. EST.

Osburn, 20, had been in a coma since July 11, when a teammate's line drive hit him on the side of the head during pre-game warm-ups of a summer league game.

"We've (the athletic department) been talking with the parents throughout the week," senior associate athletic director Rocky LaRose said. "We are all just heart broken, no one can even look at each other today without tearing up."

Osburn was airlifted from the playing field in Newark, N.Y. to Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester, where doctors performed brain surgery on July 12. The surgery proved to be unsuccessful, though, as he never regained consciousness.

He had suffered severe injuries to his brain and had massive internal bleeding as a result of the incident.

Osburn, a Tucson native, was playing for the Newark Raptors of the Northeast Collegiate Baseball League when the accident happened. Standing by the third base line at the time of the accident, Osburn was apparently not wearing a batting helmet when he was struck.

Osburn is survived by his parents, Mike and Emily, and his brother Chaun.

"Kelsey has valiantly fought to stay with us, but the strength of his athletic body has not been enough to overcome the devastating injury to his brain," an Osburn family press release stated. "Although 20 years was not long enough to have had him, we are grateful for the quality of his life and for the unqualified love we will always feel for him and from him."

UA head coach Jerry Stitt and teammates Shelley Duncan, Kenny Huff, Brad Hassey, Keoni DeRenne and Ken Riley all traveled to Rochester to visit Osburn and his family.

"Kelsey's teammates and coaches, both from Tucson and from summer teams, have flown to Rochester where possible and called daily when it was not possible for them to be here," the family stated. "We have again been buoyed up by the quality of these young men and their love for our son."

Duncan and Hassey were particularly close to Osburn, as Duncan was his best friend, and Hassey was a childhood friend of the sophomore.

"I think from what I know of them (Duncan and Hassey), they will want to carry on his spirit," Stitt said. "It is going to be particularly hard for everybody."

Osburn's organs will be donated to help those who are currently waiting for an organ donor.

"We are hopeful that Kelsey can live on through the sharing of his organs with those who need them," the family stated. "We know Kelsey would have wanted to give life to others."

Giving life to others was something that Osburn did on a daily basis, as he was well liked by family, friends and teammates.

"He was a happy and enthusiastic young man (and) that carried over to his teammates," Stitt said. "That definitely gave us a spark when doing anything. He was just a great friend to everybody."

In lieu of other expressions of sympathy, the Osburn family has established the Kelsey Osburn Memorial Player Fund. Gifts in recognition of Osburn's life can be sent to the athletic department's development office at P.O. Box 210096, Tucson, AZ 85721. Checks should be made payable to the UA Foundation/Kelsey Osburn Memorial Fund.

"The veil of our very private lives has been momentarily pierced by the very public nature of this tragedy and the need to share information about Kelsey's condition with all those who have cared so much about him," the family stated. "As we now retreat to the privacy of our family, please know that we will carry with us forever all the love and caring that this tragedy has brought into our lives.

"We once again convey our heartfelt appreciation for all your expressions of concern to our family. They have carried us through this difficult and sorrowful time."

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