In 2018, Alvin Kamara put together arguably the most impressive season of his NFL career. However, the star running back for the New Orleans Saints suffered a tragic loss off the field when his close friend and professional rapper Young Greatness was murdered. And considering the two had spoken just hours before his death about reuniting, the incident certainly came as a complete shock to Kamara.
But even with the weight of his friend’s death resting on his shoulders, Kamara refused to let that stop him from dominating on the field. In fact, just a few days after Young Greatness died, the Saints superstar turned in an inspirational performance that included a historical achievement.
Alvin Kamara entered the 2018 season coming off a sensational rookie campaign
Although he’s regarded as one of the NFL’s top running backs today, it’s safe to say few expected Alvin Kamara to reach that level. After all, the former Alabama transfer couldn’t even get on the field on a full-time basis at the University of Tennessee.
Still, the Saints saw star potential in the 5-foot-10, 214-pounder because of his versatility, balance, and toughness. They plucked the talented offensive weapon off the board with the 67th overall pick of the 2017 NFL draft.
Ultimately, Kamara rewarded their faith (and investment) with a sensational rookie season that included a league-leading 6.1 yards per carry. He also impressed in the passing game by recording 81 catches for 826 yards. Kamara earned second-team All-Pro honors after totaling 1,554 yards from scrimmage and 13 touchdowns.
Entering the 2018 season, everyone expected the reigning NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year to take his game to another level. And he most certainly did that. However, in the middle of his second NFL season, Kamara suffered a tragic loss off the field.
The tragic death of Kamara’s close friend and professional rapper Young Greatness
Everything came to a crashing halt for Alvin Kamara on Oct. 29, 2018. And it had nothing to do with his football career.
Theodore Jones, otherwise known as rap artist Young Greatness, died in a shooting incident in his hometown of New Orleans. According to FOX 8, the New Orleans Police Department responded to a call of an aggravated battery by shooting just after 1:30 a.m. When officers arrived, they discovered Jones with a gunshot wound. He died at the scene.
In December 2019, Ramon Antonio Vargas of NOLA.com reported that two teenagers pleaded guilty to roles in the shooting and robbery incident that claimed Jones’ life. Although 19-year-old Donny Maxwell and 17-year-old Lovance Wix had been charged with murder, prosecutors agreed to let them plead guilty to counts of manslaughter and illegal discharge of a gun, respectively.
Jones and Kamara had shared a close friendship. In November 2017, the New Orleans-born rapper appeared alongside the NFL star on FOX 8 to promote a turkey giveaway for the local community.
The two even had family ties. According to ESPN, Kamara actually met Jones well before he joined the Saints. His uncle, hip-hop mogul Kevin “Coach K” Lee, worked with Jones in the music industry.
Losing a close friend in violent fashion would be tough for anyone. But for Kamara, the timing couldn’t have been worse. He had spoken to Jones just hours before the rapper got shot and killed. In fact, the two had made plans to meet up after Kamara returned to New Orleans following his team’s win against the Minnesota Vikings.
But that reunion never happened.
Still, Kamara managed to honor his late friend by putting together an inspirational performance just a few days after his tragic death.
Kamara put together an inspirational, record-setting performance just a few days later
On Nov. 4, 2018, the Saints hosted the LA Rams in a monumental matchup between two of the top teams in the NFC. In one of the best games of the season, both squads came out firing. By the end of regulation, New Orleans emerged victorious by a final score of 45-35.
That never would have happened without a a record-setting day from Alvin Kamara.
Less than a week after his friend got killed, the Saints’ superstar offensive weapon stuffed the stat sheet to the tune of 19 carries for 82 yards and two touchdowns. He added four catches for 34 yards and another score.
Kamara joined Jim Brown as the only players in NFL history with three three-touchdown games in a season at the age of 23 or under.
Following his impressive performance, he discussed the death of his close friend and how it impacted him.
“It was tough,” Kamara said. “I actually talked to him before we took off from Minnesota and we were supposed to link up. And when we landed, I got the news, and I went to the scene. It’s just hard, losing anybody. That’s a close friend of mine for a long time. So it’s tough, I’ve just been trying to deal with that.”
He further added, “Most definitely it was [on my mind]. He’s been to a lot of games. And I just had it in the back of my mind he’d be talking, going crazy and talking mess. I mean that’s my boy, I’m gonna miss him.”
All statistics courtesy of Pro Football Reference.