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Sports

Hometown still mourning Stringer's death

| Friday, Aug. 3, 2001

Two days after the death of their beloved son, the town of Warren, Ohio still struggles with the loss of Korey Stringer.

'It's been a bad day,' Brent Johnson, 34, said Thursday afternoon at Jackson's Lounge. 'It's going to be a bad week.'

From the local hardware store to the corner diner residents of this blue- collar town 80 miles northwest of Pittsburgh expressed disbelief of Stringer's death.

Stringer, a 27 All-Pro tackle for the Minnesota Vikings, died early Wednesday morning after suffering heatstroke at Tuesday's practice. The news sent shockwaves through Warren, where Stringer starred at Harding High School before becoming an All-American at Ohio State and the best lineman on the powerful Vikings' offense.

'My father came downstairs and he had this blank expression on his face,' Johnson said. 'He told me.'

Through his rise to NFL stardom, the son of Jimmy and Cathy Stringer never forgot his roots.

Locals described the 335-pounder as a gentle and giving man, who bought game tickets for children whenever the Vikings played in Cleveland and last year, after making the Pro Bowl for the first time, donated his entire Pro Bowl check to buy new uniforms and helmets for the Warren Little Raiders youth football program.

'He was a local hero,' said Jim Potteiger, owner of the Joker's Den sportscard shop in Leavittsburg three miles down the road from Warren.

Stringer leaves behind his wife, Kelci, and three-year-old son, Codie.

'Everyone is just heartbroken,' said Kanovas Alexander, a family friend sitting in Caesar's restaurant in Warren. 'He was such a good person. He always came back and gave back to the community.

Alexander's son, Stephon, is a junior inside linebacker at Warren Harding. He said the Harding football players will wear stickers on their helmets this season to remember their fallen hero.

Stringer's parents still live in Warren. His father worked for the department of motor vehicles and his mother at local electronics factory. He was raised in a strict and loving household.

'They are like family to me, and they are why Korey turned out like he did,' Johnson said. 'He never forgot Warren. He would have a big barbecue when he came back, and he would always put in a lot of time and effort into talking with the kids.'

Said Alexander, 'He was just a good kid all around. He was a good athlete, second of all, but he was a good person first of all.'

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