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Ricky Berry's Suicide Still a Mystery

August 19, 1990|MARTIN McNEAL | MCCLATCHY NEWS SERVICE

Bobby Gerould, son of Kings play-by-play announcer Gary Gerould, said he and Miura had driven Berry to Calistoga on Saturday night to see sprint-car races.

"Me, him and my girlfriend talked all the way home," Bobby Gerould said. "We talked about all kinds of stuff ... some pretty deep stuff, but nothing ever came up.

"He seemed like the least-troubled guy in the world."

However, Joyner said he saw a more subdued side of Berry early Sunday evening as they swam in the Berrys' pool.

"I get kind of emotional when I talk about him, because he's probably one of the most energetic people I've ever seen," Joyner said. "We were slap-boxing in the house and then went at it on the patio. We had 10 rounds, the bell and everything. Then we jumped in the pool and swam a while.

"After that, he gave me a towel, and he went over and sat down on the bench. He paused, and he didn't say anything for a few moments. We had been laughing and joking. He paused, and I looked at him ... and it was like, something was real heavy, man, really heavy."

Joyner spoke slowly and then paused.

"This is something I haven't been able to forget, because he was always real happy and energetic, and this was the first time I'd ever seen him look different," Joyner said. "I can't even explain the look he gave me. It was really heavy. He knew I knew something bothered him, because I looked at him and I didn't say anything, and then I looked at him again. He was wiping off his face, and I could see it. If you know your partner, you know when something is up.

"I said, 'Hey, man, what's up, man?' And he didn't say nothing. So I didn't dwell on it. I looked at him again. I said, 'Is it that heavy?' He looked at me and sort of shook his head like, 'aah.'

"But that wasn't anything overly moving," Joyner said. "Everybody has a bad day or a day that they are a little bit down or a day something is troubling them and you just sort of pick it up. So I talked to him a little while after that. I didn't pick him for what was wrong. But as I stayed there, he started telling me little things, and to me, it was perfectly normal and nothing really heavy to warrant any type of concern. After a while, he cooled back out and we were joking around again."

Joyner previously said he and Berry had discussed all types of issues.

"Me and him had many, many deep talks," Joyner said, "the kind of talks that if something was really, really bothering you, you'll tell your partner. We had talked about everything ... childhoods, beliefs, about women and personal relationships, families and the whole nine yards."

Johnson often credits his relationship with God for providing direction and said Berry had inquired about that relationship on the Kings' final 1989 trip to Phoenix.

"Curious enough, when we played each other (April 17) the last time before that summer," Johnson said, "he asked me about it. He asked me some questions about my faith in Christianity. And he went to a chapel service we have before every game.

"We played horse before the game, and we were betting. I said, 'If I win, you have to come to chapel, and if you win, you don't.'

"He won, so he didn't have to come to chapel," Johnson said, "but he still wound up going. That night we went to get something to eat, and I gave him a ride back to the hotel, and he was asking questions. He was curious. It just showed that even at that time, he was looking for something else because his life was maybe a little incomplete."

Johnson said he will have some sort of memorial, maybe a room, at St. Hope Academy.

"Ricky Berry lived for so much that you don't want him to die for nothing," Johnson said. "He was a great role model. When I talk to kids now about Ricky, I tell them that he didn't do drugs, he didn't drink, he loved kids, he loved his family, and he had so many things about him that were positive. But he made one mistake. Usually, one mistake doesn't cost us that much. We usually can learn from the mistake.

"But if Ricky were here, he'd probably say, 'Learn from the one mistake I made. I can't change it now. Learn from it. Find another way to cope with problems if things aren't going well.' "

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