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Original Issue

Sports Beat

This mermaid has found her man: Dara Torres, 35, the nine-time
medal-winning Olympic swimmer who in 1994 became the first
athlete to pose along with supermodels in SI's swimsuit issue,
was to marry surgeon Ike Shasha, 55, on Jan. 16 in a small
ceremony in Palm Beach, Fla. Torres says that Shasha proposed
early one morning in October, during their trip to meet his
family in Israel, as the two stood in a desert, watching the sun
rise over the Jordanian Highlands

Not only did Auri Allen, a 6'8", 280-pound seventh grader from
Brentwood, Tenn., meet Shaquille O'Neal on the episode of
Ripley's Believe It or Not! that aired last week, but he also got
a few thrills off the set. During a break in filming, the two
were having lunch when Shaq's cellphone rang. After a quick
greeting, he passed it to Auri. The caller I.D. said "H. Berry,"
as in Halle Berry. "I couldn't believe it," Auri, 12, said of his
chat with the stunning Oscar-winning actress. The kid had barely
recovered when Jennifer Lopez called. "She told me one thing I
will never forget," Auri told SI. "She said I had a sexy name."
Allen, who plays center for the St. Vincent de Paul school, also
got some solid advice from O'Neal: "He told me to practice, stay
focused and don't get into girls." But what about Ms. Berry and
J. Lo? "Those aren't girls," Auri explained. "Those are women."

We checked and five of the 25 suitors vying for Trista Rhen on
ABC's The Bachelorette played pro or college sports. Ryan Sutter,
28, was a standout safety for the University of Colorado from
1994 to '97. He made his NFL debut with the Panthers in '98,
finally getting to play in Week 13, then dislocated his shoulder,
essentially ending his NFL career. The other sporting bachelors:
Jeff Popovich, 25, a strong safety for the Miami Hurricanes from
'96 to '99; Jamie Blyth, 27, who last year played European
basketball in Stockholm; Brook Pemberton, 29, a calf roper who's
been in about 100 pro rodeos; and Bob Guiney, 31, a backup
quarterback at Michigan State from '89 to 92 who took zero career
snaps. All survived Rehn's first cut, which slimmed the field to
15. Can they last? "I spent a lot of time waiting for her to call
my name," Guiney tells SI about the show. "It was very much like
being at Michigan State."

We also checked the sports credentials of Evan Marriott, the star
of the Fox hit Joe Millionaire--and found his penchant for
duplicity runs deep. In 2001 Marriott, now 28, studied briefly at
Ultimate University, a California school for pro wrestlers, where
his nom de guerre was Duke Suede.

Super Bowl or Lollapalooza? The lineup of Super Sunday singers
includes Celine Dion (who'll sing God Bless America), the Dixie
Chicks (The Star-Spangled Banner) and Shania Twain (who'll
perform at halftime).... Stars goalie Marty Turco is living up to
his reputation for making important saves. He recently
apprehended an 18-year-old man who'd broken into the garage of
his home in Coppell, Texas, and was allegedly fixing to steal
beer out of a refrigerator. Turco chased the man down, tackled
him and held him until police arrived.... On Feb. 4 welterweight
champ Vernon Forrest will receive an award from the Association
for the Help of Retarded Children at its annual dinner in New
York for his extensive work with the mentally disabled.

COLOR PHOTO: TED S. WARREN/AP PICTURE THIS And you thought Michael Jordan was the King of Chicago. To honor Elvis's birthday (he would have been 68 on Jan. 8), a jump-shooting, jump-suited squad of Presley impersonators provided a touch of Vegas at the United Center during a halftime scrimmage at the Jan. 6 Jazz-Bulls game. Then, we presume, they left the building.





High school basketball phenom LeBron James drives a $50,000
Hummer H2 equipped with three TVs and a hookup for video games.


Three-time Oscar winner and Lakers season-ticket holder on
discovering thespian talent: "There's probably not a better actor
than Gary Payton."