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On the rebound
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NCGatorBait Offline
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<a href='http://www.gatorsports.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20030622/GATORS20/206220340/1011/GATORS' target='_blank'>CLick Here</a>



Quote:"I don't know how much you know about me," wept Dupay, his voice cracking as 60 little lives, ages 9 to 15, stared back. "I don't even know how much you'll understand. But my life is finally getting better, and it's because of people like you."



<span style='color:blue'>Dupay is trying to send a message about the affects of gambling and is trying to get his life back in order....I just wonder if AD will be man enough to do the same??



Teddy Dupay says his life is "finally getting better"




SCOTT MARTIN/NYT Regional Newspapers
Former Florida Gator Teddy Dupay watches players run through a drill at his basketball camp in Fort Myers.

ZOOM




Fort Myers
He stands in front of the mirror, his blue eyes swollen red.

In a deep corner of the locker room, where the dim fluorescent light soaks into the navy stalls and gray tile floor, Teddy Dupay wipes away the last of the tears.

It's over now. He can finally exhale.
"I practiced that so much," says the former Florida basketball player. "Everyday in the shower, I practiced what I wanted to say. I just couldn't get it out this time."

Judging by the tears of his mother, his father, his sister and his friends, it didn't matter what he didn't say. Dupay made his point.

He just finished handing out awards to end the inaugural Teddy Dupay Basketball Camp at St. Francis Xavier Catholic School. But before he'd set the campers free, Dupay had his story to share.

He would tell them where he'd been. About what he'd seen. About those he'd hurt, and those who'd hurt him.

"I don't know how much you know about me," wept Dupay, his voice cracking as 60 little lives, ages 9 to 15, stared back. "I don't even know how much you'll understand. But my life is finally getting better, and it's because of people like you."

After leaving the Gators amidst gambling allegations in 2001, Dupay, 23, fought for a shot in the NBA. But family problems, an unstructured lifestyle and a recent knee injury fought back.

"It seemed like things were going downhill again," he says. "But just being around kids has been so refreshing. It makes you think twice about what's important in life."

When his words ran out, Dupay bolted toward the locker room, leaving the gymnasium in silence.

Maybe six years from now, their parents could explain it all. They could sit their sons and daughters down, and tell them about that Friday afternoon when Dupay poured out two years worth of tears.

They could talk about how his gritty play and sweet jumpshot made the shortest kid on the court seem like the tallest. And how his association with gambling sent him back to being what seemed to be his smallest.

Then they could talk about his message: always love your parents and stay away from alcohol.

Because since Sept. 7, 2001 - a date Dupay has memorized - those are the same lessons he learned the hard way. Lessons, he says, he'll never forget.




Constant reminders

Frying a ham and cheese omelette, Dupay's day already has started. It's 7 a.m, and he'll be giving a shooting clinic in two hours.

Yet while the sun has barely risen, the reminders have already been delivered. Two stories in the morning sports section - both about gambling on NCAA athletics - scream similarities of his own 2-year-old nightmare.

"It follows me everywhere," Dupay says. "I understand that."

In 2001, the UF Police Department launched an investigation looking into allegations that Dupay was gambling. Although he never faced charges, a 48-page report was enough to keep the former star from returning to the team.

"I swear to God," he says, "I didn't do it."

There are, of course, those who still don't believe him. Those who add up the evidence and question the kid who made Florida basketball a national powerhouse.

Gainesville state attorney Bill Cervone took charge of the case once the university's investigation was completed. Since the day he finished his portion of the case, Cervone has contested Dupay's innocence.

"I'm disappointed he continues to try to avoid taking any responsibilities for his own actions," says Cervone, who is "100 percent" certain Dupay gambled. "Everything I've looked at convinces me that he was doing it."

Cervone said despite substantial witness testimony and investigations of Dupay's phone activity, he chose not to pursue charges because the time and money wouldn't be worth the result.

"If you'd have told me then he was going to deny it two years later," Cervone says, "I don't know if we would have charged him or not."

Regardless of the verdict, the truth is this: Dupay's life went on. And, at first, it didn't get much easier.




Making amends

Two citronella candles fight the mosquitos as Dupay soaks his tired back and tight knee in his family's hot tub.

His friend - also his sister's boyfriend - Bobby Morales sits across from him as a blue neon bulb lights up the bath.

"I'm glad your dad heard what you told those kids," Morales, 30, says. "He needs to know that you love him, you know?"

Dupay agrees. They look out onto the stretch of intercoastal waterway running along side the family's sprawling property.

"He works so hard," Dupay says of his father, Edward II, a successful orthopedic surgeon.

As tough as life has been for Dupay, his parents also have struggled to cope with their son's dismissal from the team. Still feeling the burn of the media frenzy from two years ago, both insist on keeping comments out of the newspaper.

These days, Dupay does the talking. He constantly praises his dad, the man he calls "The Doc."

Earlier this year, though, too many disagreements about the path of Dupay's life caused the father and son to stop speaking. They went eight weeks without a word.

Then, it happened. Dupay's life would take another hit to an already problem-plagued past.

After playing professional ball in Venezuela, Dupay returned to the states in April of 2002 because of civil turmoil overseas. Soon after, he picked back up playing in the Continental Basketball Association as a guard for the Rockford Lightning.

But during the third quarter on Feb. 21, just six days after draining nine 3-pointers for 41 points, Dupay felt his anterior cruciate ligament rip. With the game still going and his knee packed in ice, he reclined on a bench in the locker room.

"It was a pretty sick feeling," says Dupay, who had just been named CBA player of the week with a 10-day NBA contract with Seattle in the works. "I had to call somebody."

Dupay broke the silence, using his cell phone to call his dad from that quiet locker room in Grand Rapids, Mich.

"I didn't know who else to call, really," says Dupay, who moved back in with his parents. "He just said, 'when can I come get you?'"




Back to school

Four months after the injury, Dupay has altered his life's path again. He just hopes the new road winds its way back to the same destination - a spot on an NBA roster.

"He's not ready yet," says Alonzo Littlejohn, Dupay's trainer and former personal trainer of such NBA stars as B.J. Armstrong and Danny Ainge. "We're not going to rush his recovery, but he has what it takes. He'll get his shot soon enough."

While he's rehabilitating his right knee, Dupay will return to Gainesville. He starts classes in a week.

He remains on scholarship, and with seven credits needed in his major, the senior plans on finishing his degree in Sociology by December. Then he'll focus fully on preparing for the NBA Draft.

But two things will be different for Dupay this time around.

For one, he'll watch basketball games as a fan. And he says he'll cut back on the social lifestyle he became too accustomed to.

Dupay admits after he left the Gators, he almost gave up the game. Instead, he started visiting Gainesville's late-night hangouts at least four times a week. His autographed jersey is framed next to the bar at the Swamp Restaurant.

"When you're feeling terrible, the easiest thing to do is to start drinking," Dupay says. "It wasn't heavy drinking, but the lifestyle I was trying to lead, I wasn't happy and I didn't trust people. So I'd just try to go out and have fun. I felt like, if nobody else cares, why should I?"

Even though Dupay isn't against an occasional night out, he's curbed his social habits considerably.

"I realized I wanted to keep playing this game," says Dupay, who now works out three to four times a day. "I'm remotivated."




Rolling again

The memories of his final days at Florida seem to be slowly fading.

From a jukebox at Pincher's Crab Shack in Fort Myers, Jimmy Buffett's Barometer Soup belts from the speakers.

"No, I'm not the first
Won't be the last
You lust for the future
But treasure the past."
Dupay sits next to his girlfriend and across from Bobby and his sister Abbey. They begin talking about the last week at camp - about the gratification of working with kids. They talk about what Dupay said to them earlier that afternoon.

Once again, the tears begin to flow.
"It's been a tough road," he says. "But I think I have things rolling again. You know, there's a chance I won't make it back. Some people don't. I just don't think that's going to be me."



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06-22-2003 11:11 AM
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Dawg Quixote Offline
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He should have admitted this years ago.
06-22-2003 06:40 PM
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NCGatorBait Offline
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<span style='color:blue'>Glad to see he has learned his lesson and now trying to be a positive influence in some young kids life....Dawg....give the man some props for that!</span> :rolleyes:
06-23-2003 05:35 AM
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