December 20, 2005 by

Darrell Russell

34 comments

Categories: Sports

drussell2.jpgDarrell Russell, a former NFL defensive tackle, died on Dec. 15 in an auto accident. He was 29.
Born in Pensacola, Fla., and raised by his mother in San Diego, Russell attended the University of Southern California on a football scholarship. The 6-foot-5, 325-pound athlete was a 1996 finalist for the Lombardi Award, and became the No. 2 overall pick by Oakland in the 1997 draft. At the time, his seven-year, $22 million deal was the richest rookie contract ever signed in the NFL. Russell made 28 1/2 sacks in his five seasons with the Raiders and played in the 1998 and 1999 Pro Bowl games before drug abuse and legal problems derailed his promising career.
The NFL suspended Russell three times for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. His first suspension, which he received for failing a drug test, caused him to miss the first four games of the 2001 season. He was suspended again in 2002 for testing positive for the drug Ecstasy. Shortly after his reinstatement to the league in 2003, however, the Raiders released him. Russell then played for the Washington Redskins and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but was suspended indefinitely in 2004 after testing positive for alcohol, a banned substance in his treatment program.
Drugs weren’t Russell’s only problem. In 2002, he was charged as an accomplice in the drugging and sexual assault of a woman. When the prosecutors could not prove that he videotaped the rape — allegedly perpetrated by two of his friends — the charges were dropped. That same year, Russell was arrested in Carson City, Nev., and charged with DUI after he was clocked going 60 mph in a 35 mph zone.
Early last Thursday, Russell was riding in a 2004 Pontiac Grand Prix driven by his former USC teammate Michael Paul Bastianelli on a Los Angeles city street. The car, which was traveling at a high rate of speed, went out of control and hit a curb, two trees, a newsstand, a fire hydrant, a light pole and an unoccupied bus before coming to a stop. Russell died from his injuries; Bastianelli, 29, was also killed in the accident.
NFL Career Stats

34 Responses to Darrell Russell

  1. Kendle O'Neal

    Tony was my boy when we were kids growing up in SanDiego. He lived down the street from me on Jacmar. I currently live in Washington DC. I feel for his mother. I always had wished when he played for the skins. I would have gotten in contact with him.

  2. Mya

    D. was funny. He always kept a smile on my face when I was down. I’m fortunate to have met such a sweet lovable person. I’ll never get over his absence. We loved him.

  3. Toby Bailey

    D was one of the coolest guys I have ever known. He always had a smile on his face and that is how I will remember him. I will miss him.

  4. Darrell Johnson

    I was serving in the U.S. Navy with Darrell’s father Darrell Russell Sr. When he was drafted and was playing at pro bowl level, he was one of the proudest father I’ve ever seen, my heart goes out to Captain Russell and rest of the family.

  5. Jim Green

    Little Darrell is what we called him when his Dad “Tony” had him onboard USS Yorktown CG-48. Tony was the OPS Boss on 48 and one of the best men I ever worked for….. My respects to the family.

  6. Paul Aguayo

    A kind boy that was afraid to sack the quarterbacks in High Scool for fear of hurting them. I drove him to shcool w/James Minshall. He told me when he was in St Ritas Catholic Jr High he was going to attend USC & then play for the Raiders. And James, if you read this, please try to forgive me.

  7. dustin crawford

    His friendship was a gift from God. High School friend and teamate. 94′ bball. CIF champs RIP big fella

  8. anonymous

    I wish I could’ve had the chance to meet you, I’m sure you were a great man, your father is the greatest & I love your brother, I know they miss you alot but you will always remain in their hearts. R.I.P.

  9. Kenneth Martinez

    Best player I ever saw. Still wear your Raider jersey on occasion . . . and it is almost 2008 (I am not even a Raider fan)! Watch your play over and over again- Notre Dame @ SC. I pray for you, don’t forget to pray for me. God bless.

  10. mdjones

    It’s too hard to accept the most gentlemen giant young man that I watched grow have been away for the past 2 years… St Rita Catholic School, I always recall the time Sha-Ron and Freddie will tell me that you went across the street to buy mexican food, you knew that you can get detention but you will still go because you like to eat mexican for lunch & share w/them. Jelani was here in Denver and came to visit, Freddie asked me to cook all you guys favorite filipino dishes, Jelani said just like when you guys are in grade school and high school… you’re the only one missing… Darrell we miss you so much, you will be always in our heart and prayers…

  11. Sami Antar

    to the best friend i ever had your memories will never be forgotten being its really hard with your name tattood on my arm . you always knew how to make me smile and make something good out of any bad situation , i remember a kid crying at the beverly mall because he didnt have a pen so that you could sighn his paper so just like the big hearted teddy bear you were you walked him into a hallmark baught a sharpie and a football and a throwaway camera and made me take 25 pictures of you and that kid i have never seen a kid cry from being so happy …. that was one out of 10 million storys i have to share with the world maybe one day i will come out with a book about all that was good about Darrell Russell

  12. Kirsten

    I would very much like to visit his burial site while in SD over Xmas vacatioin. I felt it inappropriate to come to the funeral. Please email me at kirstenk31@hotmail.com if you know where it is. He was so important to me. I wish things were different.

  13. nancy west

    Darrell was my son’s best friend. They died together. He once drove Mike to Newport Beach to see me when I was in town for a big rah rah(i’m a salesman) and even though his ankle was sprained he drove Mike and they came to the party. We stayed about 10 minutes and went to eat where they both ordered the whole menu. Not only do I miss Michael, the love of my life. I miss D too. Nancy West, Michael’s mother

  14. Dan Fleyshman

    Darrell was my roommate for years as well as my mentor in life. He made me who I am today and his memory lives on through all of his great friends and stories that are talked about around the world. We all Love you Darrell and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

  15. Darina

    Darrell was one of the reason’s that I became the Raider fan that I am today. I loved the way that he played the game, and the big smiles that he would always put out on the rare interviews that he had. Regretably, I never got to meet him, but I do have an autographed jeresy “96” sighned by him that I treasure with my heart. Save a spot for me in Heavan Big Man, I hope to meet you there. I would love to hear stories about him if there is anyone willing to share. I truly miss your smile.

  16. bach stabile

    God Bless you Darrell.
    My name is Bach Stabile, and I was a kicker for UCLA. Yes UCLA lol. More important… I was a dear friend of Jelani McCoy, which of course made me a friend of Darrell Russell. Not only did we have the best memories in college, but he changed my life! Sometimes I feel like I should have been in that car with him. We shared so much in common. His death was a tragedy, but it changed me for the better. Since that day on the 15th of Dec. I have lived sober and with new direction.
    Darrell was an angel. And as they say, people are never truly dead until we forget them. I will never forget you bro. In fact, I got a giant tattoo across my entire back with the initials D.R. and with roses. Darrell I love you and I thank you for everything you taught me. Thank you for letting me know the real Darrell.
    BACH

  17. Debra "Bay Area"

    I am so crushed about the death of Darrell. I was a friend of his when he was playing with the Raiders. We kept in touch even when he moved to LA. We talked about the alleged rape case he said deb I didnt do it. I believed him, Darrell was a kind and giving person to everyone. He was a big teddy bear. You will always be remembered and always be in my heart I wish I could of been there for you. I do have pictures of you and I and the good times we shared they will be treasured. You were such a good friend…The last time I seen you it seemed like your life was spinning out of control you were into things and going a different direction I wish I could of talked to you more and convinced you to go a different path. You will always be a RAIDER to me, when I heard the news I cried it was sad. I wanted to attend the service but couldnt find out where it was at. Youll always have a place in my heart no matter what wrong you have done, true friends will always be there. I know you are in football heaven . Crazy azz darrell…Love ya

  18. Debra

    Darryl was a big teddy bear and was very kind hearted. When I came to LA we got together and that was the last time I seen him. Remembering when he lived in the Bay and the parties he would throw. You are so missed and my buddy, when times were hard for you … you and I would talk on the phone and I believed you I know you didnt do what you were accused of NO WAY! You are missed and I have pictures to remember you…I am just sorry I couldnt say goodbye…..God is watching over you now and I need you to watch over my mom and dad for me too love ya big “D”

  19. Manoli

    BIGG RAIDER FAN AND BIG RUSSELL FAN WHEN I HEARD YOU GOT CUT I WAS LIKE WTF WERE THEY THINKING? I KNEW YOU WERE INNOCENT WITH THE WHOLE TAPE THING, YOU WERE A AMAZING FOOTBALL PLAYER AND FOREVER YOU WILL BE REMEMBERED AS A GREAT RAIDER DEFENDER FOREVER AND A GREAT MAN, I LOST MY BEST FRIEND JULY 9TH 2008 AT DA AGE OF 22, SO I FEEL YOUR FAMILIES PAIN DEEPLY BECAUSE I MISS HIM SOO MUCH I CRY EVERY NITE THINKING OF HIM, AND YOUR PARENTS AND FRIENDS MAY FEEL, EVEN IF ITS BEEN 3 YRS, IT STILL HARD, YOU WERE A GREAT MAN, GREAT FRIEND, GREAT SON AND A GREAT TEAMMATE AND YOU WILL TRULY BE MISSED TILL WE ALL JOIN YOU IN HEAVEN AND WATCH YOUR RAIDER SACKS

  20. ra

    Dr i will always remembere you as the big hearted guy you were , I keep you jersey in my office till this day, may u rest in peace and i think of u often much love, i smile when i think of u and thanks for my 30th birthday party, i am looking at the pictures now, u are all smiles. god bless, Reeen

  21. ken bowen

    Here it is 2009 and you are still in my thoughts and in my heart. You were such a great friend and team mate at USC. Shannon and I still look at all the old pictures we have and remember the smile and friendship you gave us both.

  22. sami antar

    happy birthday my best friend at least i know you are in good hands and he is lucky to have you. RIP hope to see you some day…love always your arab brother

  23. Travis Russell

    This is Darrell A. Russell little brother and i appreciate what everybody has said and im touched. Im glad that he has been a big part in alot of peoples lives including mine and i will miss him dearly and i do miss him more and more everyday but i know hes looking down on at all of us and smiling. Like my tattoo says on my arm. Gone but not Forgotten. I love u Tee!

  24. Kenneth Martinez

    Okay big guy, time to get the Raiders #96 jersey out of storage. . . its that time of the year. I’ll be the one sportin’ it at the SC games.

  25. Dan Fleyshman

    Can’t believe it’s been 4 years. Darrell was the most influential person in my life, he taught me about people and life. I think him about him everyday.

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