The sports world was shocked over the weekend to learn that Christian Saulsberry, a star with the Edmonton Elks Canadian Football League franchise was shot and killed while attending a birthday party in the Memphis, Tennessee area, as ESPN.com reports.
According to reports, the gridiron standout and South Haven, Mississippi native had just turned 25 years old last Monday.
Shooting claims Elks star
WMC Action News in Memphis reported that officers with the Desoto Police Department were called to the scene of a shooting in the early morning hours, responding at 3:28 a.m. to the 74000 block of Church Road in Walls, Mississippi, which sits just to the southwest of the Tennessee city.
It was then that Saulsberry was found with multiple gunshot wounds, including hits to the leg as well as the abdomen.
Though he was rushed by ambulance to a local hospital, Sauslberry reportedly died en route, as WMC further noted.
Fox 13 in Memphis later reported that on Saturday afternoon, 24-year-old Mark McDaniel of Memphis was placed under arrest at his residence in the city.
McDaniel has been charged with second-degree murder in the death of Saulsberry, the outlet further noted.
The suspected killer is now slated for extradition to DeSoto County, and the investigation into the events surrounding Saulsberry’s death will reportedly continue.
Tributes pour in
Renowned for his quickness on the field, Saulsberry earned All-Gulf South Conference honors while at the University of West Alabama and went on to play a total of eight games with the Edmonton Elks in 2022, according to ESPN.com.
The Elks organization issued a statement in response in the aftermath of Saulsberry’s death, saying, “First and foremost, our hearts go out to his family during this incredibly difficult time. Our condolences are also extended to his friends, including the many teammates and coaches both here in Edmonton and elsewhere, that he impacted throughout his football career.”
“Christian’s contributions to our football team both on the field and in our locker room were significant during his one season with the Green and Gold. His positivity and energy for life will be dearly missed,” the statement concluded.
Former coach pays homage
Paying especially poignant tribute to Saulsberry was his former high school coach Greg Wallace, who described the athlete as “a great kid in every sense of the world,” as ABC24 in Memphis reported.
“He was way bigger than football. He would stay after and hang out with the junior kids. He would give people rids home from practice who might not be able to get a ride there in time. You know, he would go pick people up,” Wallace added.
Lamenting the seemingly senseless nature of this tragedy, and arguably by extension, so many others like it, Wallace observed, “To have him, you know, taken out of the world so young, I just feel like everybody that knew him has been short-changed or cheated out of, you know, getting to love him.”