TAMPA - Sean Taylor and Phillip Buchanon both grew up in Florida. Each was a defensive back for the University of Miami. Buchanon was a first-round pick by Oakland in 2002 and Taylor was a first-round selection by Washington in 2004.
Buchanon was a home invasion victim last year. Taylor's home was invaded early Monday morning.
For Buchanon, there is one major difference between their parallel worlds.
"Mine happened; I'm still here. He's not here," Buchanon said.
Taylor, 24, died early Tuesday from a gunshot wound by an apparent intruder in his Miami home. The bullet reportedly damaged the femoral artery in Taylor's leg, causing significant blood loss for the Redskins Pro Bowl cornerback.
Buchanon, now a starting cornerback for the Bucs, is fortunate that he did not incur the same tragedy when he was victimized.
As Buchanon and a friend relaxed in his suburban Atlanta home on March 13, 2006, at 3:30 a.m., seven men with ski masks and guns invaded the house. They were stripped naked and tied up, and Buchanon was repeatedly pistol-whipped on his face and body. An assailant later shoved a gun into Buchanon's mouth and demanded $20,000 in cash or he would fire.
Buchanon's life was spared, but the robbers spent 90 minutes taking everything they could from his 6,000-square-foot, seven-bedroom home. That included all of his clothes, $1,200 in cash, 70- and 50-inch televisions, jewelry and his Infiniti SUV.
Buchanon believed close friends set him up, and he was happy to walk away alive. On Thursday, he preferred to shift the attention to Taylor's grieving family and friends.
"In a situation like this, all you can do is learn, but like I said, it's all about Sean. It's not nothing similar to my situation," Buchanon said. "I'm just in awe. I'm still grasping it. I'm still thinking about it. I just wish his family the best."
Buchanon, who described Taylor as a laid-back person and one of the best safeties to play for Miami, said he intended to attend next week's funeral service for his friend.