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Football player critically injured in fight at party

Two former teammates at Saddleback College and two others are held on suspicion of assault.

September 28, 2007|Tony Barboza | Times Staff Writer

A Saddleback College football player was in critical condition Thursday with a severe head injury after a fight last weekend with four young men, two of them former teammates, authorities said.

The fistfight erupted early Sunday at a party at the Promenade apartment complex on Marguerite Parkway in Mission Viejo. After being hit several times, Jamal Malone, 20, fell to the pavement of the parking lot, said Jim Amormino, a spokesman for the Orange County Sheriff's Department.

Authorities found Malone about 2:30 a.m., bleeding profusely from the back of his head, with about 75 people gathered around him.

Four young men were arrested on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon and conspiracy to cause great bodily harm. They later were released on $25,000 bail each.

Two of the alleged attackers, Chad Duran and Wallace Rodrigues, both 18, were former teammates, although Duran left the team several weeks ago. Rodrigues had gone out for the team but failed to provide the paperwork to show that he met the eligibility requirements, said Tony Lipol, the college's athletic director.

Nigel Kauai, 18, and a 17-year-old whose name was not released because he is a minor, also were arrested. They had no affiliation with the football team, Amormino said.

Malone, who is being treated at Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo, is battling bleeding and swelling of the brain, according to a Web posting by his mother, Yolanda Malone, who was providing updates at www.caringbridge.org/ visit/jamalmalone.

Malone's coaches described him as a dedicated athlete who was not a star player. He was a defensive back but had not played in a game since Sept. 1.

Malone was named one of the Saddleback College Gauchos' players of the week as a tribute after he was injured.

"He's what we call your consummate team player," said Steve Crapo, the team's defensive coordinator. "Even though he wasn't a starter and didn't play that much, he was always there."

tony.barboza@latimes.com

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