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July 5, 2010

Remembering John Crowder

“Matt, I’ve got some real bad news,” said the man on the other end of the line at 9:30 this morning.

John Crowder, the 6-foot-8, 215-pound power forward who starred at Mount Carmel as a sophomore, had been shot and killed last night.

“This city, man ...” the source said as his voice trailed off.

Crowder was born and raised in East Baltimore, but basketball provided him a ticket out of the area. As an eighth-grader, Crowder moved to Texas to play for God's Academy in Dallas. Soon after he was profiled by the Dallas Morning News.

John was born and raised by his grandmother on Baltimore's gritty east side. His mother died of cancer when he was 2. His father was long gone by then.

It wasn't long before John was running with the wrong crowd. Street life brought only trouble. He can recite a litany of juvenile run-ins with the law. He has witnessed, he says, both older brothers writhing on the ground after being shot in drug deals. One of his best friends was murdered. He was resigned to a similar fate. Few escape Kirk Avenue.

Crowder’s time in Dallas didn’t last long. He returned to Baltimore for his freshman year, which he spent at Towson Catholic. Owls coach Josh Pratt was impressed with Crowder’s play on TC’s junior varsity, and expected big things from him as a sophomore.

When the Archdiocese of Baltimore closed Towson Catholic last summer, however, Crowder was forced to look for another school. He landed at Mount Carmel in Essex, where he quickly emerged as one of the MIAA B Conference’s top talents.

I met Crowder for the first time in April. He played for Team Baltimore at the inaugural Maryland Super 60 Showcase at St. Paul’s, scoring two points in the Class of 2012 contest and 11 in the 2011 game.

“I’m getting letters from Maryland, Virginia Tech, Clemson, St. Joseph’s, a bunch of A-10s and ACC schools,” Crowder said that day. “For me being from Maryland, I liked Maryland growing up and watching Maryland.”

He was a seemingly affable manchild, appreciative of the interview and excited about playing for his cousin and guardian, Brodie Crowder, during the 2012 game. We briefly talked about his time in Dallas, and he said he was happy to be back home in Baltimore.

Crowder was playing for Nike Baltimore Elite this summer and would’ve had the opportunity to impress numerous college coaches during the open period this month. A free college education was undoubtedly in his future.

More details about Crowder’s death will likely surface in the coming days. Condolences go out to family and friends of a promising young player taken far too soon.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 3:54 PM | | Comments (22)


No matter who you are. No mater what side of the tracks you come from. No matter what race, religion, or sex.

This city eats it's young.

RIP John Crowder

I miss my little big cousin...We all tried to show him the right path..My brother, Brodie Crowder feels as if he lost his one and only son..He's really messed up about this, we all are...When my brother gained guardianship over him he turned him into a straight A honor roll student.John had so much potential and a guarenteed bright future in front of him but he just couldn't get rid of the urge of streets...We love U and will always miss u..

For any of you who wonder why the big time Baltimore recruits don't commit to schools in the's to get away from the pointless, non-sensical violence that exists like this.

Big John, the Baltimore Nike Elite family will miss you dearly. Its about more than just basketball! He was a sweet kid, he deserved better than what he got. God Bless you Big John.

This is so sad.... I have nothing to offer, but wishes of peace for his family. I hope htey find comfort in this time of pain.

THIS HAS TO STOP. To the family: Sorry for your loss. It is our loss as well.

It's not going to change. Build a wall around the city, then Arizona. Sorry for the family.

Very sad. Rest in Peace John Crowder.

I'm from the DC area and this sad story brings back memories of violent acts that happened to atheletes from my area,Jay Bias, Vic Paige etc..... Another young talent gone....My prayers are with his family

Ima Miss John he Was One Of My god Friends Im Sad To See Him Leave ! I pray NHope they Will Find the Guy who Did this To My Friend . He Will be Missed By All ! you will never Be Forgotten John I LOVE YOU

This city doesn't eat people up. It's the people who live here that do. Own the issue and quit blaming it on circumstances.

I pray that this seseless crime. Serves as a message to our young people of Baltimore. We must be careful of the people or situations that we let take priority over our life goals. There is a cliche that says" You hang around the barber shop long enough you will getr a hair cut". My prayers go out to this talented young mans family and friends.

John was very special to me. I had a talk with him once about life and basketball when he had to sit out a game for being a typical teenager. He understood. I feel like I lost a son. My prayers go out to his family.

I was John's elementary school principal. I am VERY sad to hear of his passing. He was a special student to me. I saw so much potential in him in 6th grade. I hope he finds peace now. God bless him, and I'm glad that I had the privilege of knowing him.

To the friends and Family of John Crowder..We lave him here in Dallas..My boys had a chance to know him..The played with him at the Fab Frosh camp in Chantilly as upcoming freshmen..

Here in Dallas we gonna miss a great young man with plenty of promise..

I love you Big John. We had some good times here in Dallas. We all use to laugh at how different Maryland was from Texas. You and my son both were making the transition from Maryland together to God's Academy both as 8th graders and you stayed with us a lot that year. I remember our talks about staying on the right path, and how basketball and education would be your key to success. When you returned to Maryland and moved with Brodie, you continued your steps down the right path. I was so proud to hear about your Good grades and the success you were having at TC and Mt. Caramel. I was very proud of you. The last time we spoke you said you were coming back out here to visit with us, and you were suppose to have been with us on July 5th-7th in Houston for the Lucas Camp. Through the tears I wonder why God took you and Deion Houston former Teammates away with so much promise left to fulfill, I realize God had other plans. Rest In Peace my Angel. I will never forgot you,

John...I can't believe you are no longer here with us but now you are in a better place. I have fond memories of you coming down the halls of Coldstream Park #31 boasting proudly how you beat Mr. John Dixon in a game of basketball. My best memories are of us working on the steps of regrouping/renaming math problems. May you rest in peace with your Mom.

Rest In Peace Big John

Ilove you bro

i love you bro i miss oyu i wish you can come back rip bro

I don't really know john but i attend Baltimore city college high school and it seems like everyday i see someone walking around with a R.I.P big john head band or a sweatshirt. I know the incident happened many months ago but in seeing all these comments and the way people feel about him, i had to comment. I truly wish this hadn't happened, i cant say i have ever witnessed a friend dying this way. I am a ballerina and the pressure to be skinny is immensely large, so many of my friends starve themselves in order to become skinny and end up dying. I guess what im trying to say is that we all grieve in some sort of form. I cant say i miss him or know exactly what it feels like to be because i don't know him, but i can say i miss what he did to the people around him. He seemed like a wonderful person, who was on the right path. I know your never suppose to question the man upstairs, but things like this just make me wonder... My condolences to his family and friends. <3 pleaseeee Baltimore city fix this problem

john i miss and love never going forget you
your lor brova p

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About Matt Bracken

Matt Bracken was a lightly recruited football and tennis prospect out of East Lansing (Mich.) High School in 2001, but spurned all (nonexistent) scholarship offers to attend the University of Michigan. Matt graduated from UM in 2005, earned a master's degree in new media journalism from Northwestern University in 2006, and spent the first 11 months of his career as an online producer / videographer / blogger at the Arizona Daily Star in Tucson. He has worked at The Baltimore Sun since July 2007, where he currently serves as the deputy sports editor for digital.

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