Mother of Packers star killed in car accident

Posted: Thursday, December 05, 2002

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The mother of Green Bay Packers defensive end Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila was killed in a car accident the same day the football player became a father.

Bola Tito Anjorin Gbaja-Biamila, 53, was killed Sunday night in Los Angeles when her car went out of control and struck a palm tree, then caught fire.

''She's going to be dearly missed,'' Gbaja-Biamila said from the family's home in south-central Los Angeles on Wednesday. ''She was always trying to help somebody and that's what she was doing just before she died.''

Gbaja-Biamila, who was excused from practice, said his mother had gone to help a friend in need and was returning home when the accident occurred.

''She was a servant to people. She was Christian and my father (Mustapha) is Muslim. Both have had a value system based on helping others. My dad told her 'You've got to get some rest,' and she said, 'I've got to go help,''' Gbaja-Biamila said.

The accident occurred near the home where the Nigerian-born couple raised their seven children.

Funeral services are set for Tuesday in Inglewood, Calif.

The accident occurred the same day Gbaja-Biamila's wife, Eileen, gave birth to the couple's first child, a boy they named Abdul Rasheed, in Green Bay.

The baby was born 10 hours before Gbaja-Biamila played against the Chicago Bears.

Team president Mark Hatley said Gbaja-Biamila's mother was planning to visit Green Bay this week to meet her new grandchild.

Gbaja-Biamila, tied for fifth in the NFC with a team-best 10 sacks, is due back in Green Bay on Thursday. The Packers expect him to play Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings, providing he's up to it.

''He's got to have time and he's got to work his way through it,'' Hatley said.

''It's something you never expect to happen.''

The entire organization is affected by the tragedy, defensive end Vonnie Holliday said.

''It's tough. When I walked in the training room on Monday, the first thing I'm told about is Kabeer's mom and my heart just dropped,'' Holliday said. ''For a guy who was just riding on top of the world earlier the same day to have that experience of such a low, I can't even imagine what that would be like.''

Holliday said the players are struggling with how to help Gbaja-Biamila cope with his unexpected loss.

''Just to sit and talk to him and to see his face and to see the pain and how much he's hurting, I think it affects everybody around him,'' Holliday said.

''And as a friend you just ask what can you do? The only thing you can do is just be a friend, be there for him to talk to.

''If he needs a hug, give him a hug. His wife's here with the baby. Anything you can do to try to help him out.''

The Packers will keep a close eye on Gbaja-Biamila as he returns to the football field to make sure he's in the proper frame of mind to compete.

''Nobody knows the answer to that,'' defensive coordinator Ed Donatell said. ''We're planning to have a contingency plan if he can't go.''

Rookie Aaron Kampman, who is playing with a heavy cast on his broken right hand, or newly acquired Keith McKenzie could start.

Gbaja-Biamila, a fifth-round draft pick out of San Diego State, spent the first six weeks of his career on the Packers' practice squad, then had 1 1/2 sacks in seven games.

He had a breakout season last year with 13 1/2 sacks as a situational pass rusher. This year he became the starter when Joe Johnson was lost for the season with a triceps injury on Oct. 7.

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