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BACK FROM TRAGEDY: 'Bama Forward's Stirring Return

You won't see many performances more inspirational than Alabama senior forward Jermareo Davidson's 25-point, 11-rebound, nine-block effort in a 77--64 win over Southern Mississippi last Saturday. Davidson has endured unimaginable heartbreak over the last two months.

On Nov. 7 his brother, Dewayne Watkins, was shot in the head by an unknown assailant in Atlanta. Five days later Davidson and his girlfriend, Nikki Murphy, visited his brother in the hospital, but on the drive back home Murphy lost control of the SUV she was driving. The car flipped several times, and while Davidson walked away from the accident unharmed, Murphy was thrown from the vehicle and died several hours later at the same hospital where Watkins, 27, remains paralyzed.

Davidson tried to play through his grief, but he fell so far behind in his studies that he had to withdraw from school before exams last week. The NCAA, citing bylaw—which grants an exemption for an athlete whose ability to attend college is hurt by an incapacitating injury or illness to himself or a member of his immediate family—cleared him to rejoin the squad in time for the Southern Miss game. "When he gets on the court, it's like freedom for him," Crimson Tide coach Mark Gottfried said afterward. "It's a time when he doesn't have to think about anything else."