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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs' Price loses sister who was his bedrock

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Published:   |   Updated: March 18, 2013 at 02:41 PM
TAMPA -

Brian Price's older sister Bridget has been the rock the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive tackle has leaned on ever since he lost his second brother to a gang-related shooting in Los Angeles eight years ago.

Now Bridget is gone, too.

The 30-year-old mother of 7- and 9-year-old boys, she died last week from injuries sustained in a car accident that has shaken Brian's life like nothing before, his agent told The Tampa Tribune on Thursday.

"There is just no way to explain the grief he's feeling as a result of this loss,'' said agent Charles Price, who is not related to Brian. "It's really taken quite a toll on him.''

The toll so far includes a degree of mental and physical exhaustion that resulted in a hospital stay here in Tampa that began on Monday and didn't end until late Thursday, Price's agent said.

"He was ready to go with the OTAs (organized team activities) starting up on Tuesday, but between a complete lack of sleep and all that he has been dealing with from this loss, he just couldn't do it,'' Charles Price said.

"You never want to use the term 'physical exhaustion,' but there's really no other way to describe it. He was dehydrated and after dealing with so much, his body just shut down on him.''

Bucs officials have not commented on Price's status. When asked about his absence from the Bucs first organized full-squad workout Tuesday, general manager Mark Dominik abruptly cut off a brief interview without explanation.

"It has truly been a surreal week and a half for him,'' Charles Price said of Brian. "I mean, he learned of this while he was literally getting ready to board a plane in Los Angeles to go get an update on all the lower extremity issues he's had.''

The loss of his sister is just the latest in a long line of adversities that Price, the Bucs second-round selection in the 2010 draft, has had to deal with since his childhood.

When Brian was 10, his 18-year-old brother Eddie was killed just a block from Brian's house in a drive-by shooting while walking a girl to a bus stop in the L.A.'s crime-infested Crenshaw district.

Five years later, Brian's 24-year-old brother Damon was shot in the back of the head by what Brian once described as a friend of the family as Damon drove his car down the district's Crenshaw Blvd.

The second shooting so disturbed Brian that his grades dropped to a point where his family wondered if he would lose out on what seemed to be a sure chance to play college football.

A Parade All-American on the field, Price eventually rallied in the classroom and went on to play at UCLA, where he established himself as one of the most disruptive pass rushers and run stoppers in the nation.

As soon as he got to the NFL, though, new troubles arose. Slowed at first by sore hamstrings, Price eventually had to undergo a surgical procedure in 2010 in which doctors had to re-attach both of his hamstrings to his pelvis.

The injury kept Price out of all but five games his rookie season and while he got into 15 a year ago, he said he never played at more than 60-percent efficiency while recording 24 tackles and three sacks.

"No one has been struck by more bad luck and personal tragedy than this kid,'' Charles Price said. "But he'll be stronger for it, because that's the way he is. Like I said, he was trying to go on Monday and that was just a few days after all this happened.''

The loss of his sister will result in a dramatic change of lifestyle for Price. His agent said Bridget's surviving sons will live with Brian's mother until school is out this year but will then move to Tampa and live with Brian.

"He's planning to adopt those two boys,'' Charles Price said. "I've actually been assisting him with some of the legal stuff on that. Again, that's just the kind of guy he is.''

rcummings@tampatrib.com

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