29/05/2024

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Former Morgan State basketball standout Blake Bozeman, son of former coach, dies in D.C. nightclub shooting

Former Morgan State basketball standout Blake Bozeman, son of former coach, dies in D.C. nightclub shooting

The Morgan State University men’s basketball program is mourning the death of former point guard Blake Bozeman. The son of former Bears and California coach Todd Bozeman was 31.

The Metropolitan Police Department of Washington, D.C. confirmed that Bozeman was killed Saturday night in a shooting at a nightclub in the city.

“I was heartbroken because that’s a brother of mine,” said Cedric Blossom, a power forward who played with Bozeman from 2012 to 2014 and is currently a graduate assistant for Penn State men’s basketball. “I played with him for three years. So we had endless practices together, and we went to war together against other teams. So it definitely hurts.”

Justin Black, a shooting guard who also played with Bozeman from 2012 to 2014 and is a member of the Washington Mystics’ basketball operations and scout team, said, “It’s extremely heavy. It’s very hard trying to rationalize death when it happens. It happened, and it wasn’t something that he could control. … To be hit by a stray bullet when he was minding his own business and was just in the wrong place at the wrong time, it’s extremely hurtful.”

Todd Bozeman, who coached California from 1993 to 1996 and Morgan State from 2006 to 2019, did not return a request for comment.

Norfolk State coach Robert Jones passed along his sympathy to the Bozeman family and railed against gun violence.

“This senseless gun violence gotta stop!” he wrote on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter. “Another young man lost . RIP Blake Bozeman and condolences to Coach Todd Bozeman.”

Black said he has known Blake Bozeman since an AAU Tournament when the former was a freshman at De Matha Catholic and the latter was an eighth grader. Black said because he grew up in Washington, about 15 minutes from the Bozeman family’s home in Bowie, the duo got to know each other well.

Black said Blake Bozeman enjoyed being his father’s son but also knew that others viewed him differently.

“He always was extra passionate about trying to establish his own dreams because his dad was such an influential figure,” Black said. “He felt like he had to make his own path, and I loved that the most about Blake.”

Black, a shooting guard, joined the Bears in 2010 for a chance to play under Todd Bozeman. He said when the son followed his father a year later, the younger Bozeman took the opportunity to speak to his teammates.

“Everyone was unsure if Boze was going to favor his son and all of this other stuff,” Black said. “I’ll never forget that he made this locker room speech and said, ‘Look, I don’t know what you guys know about me or what you heard, but I’m here to be a part of the team. I’m willing to do what it takes to win.’ I think he doubled down on that and really just built that identity.

“His M.O. was, ‘I’m going to lead, and I’m not just going to do it from a coach-is-my-dad perspective. I’m going to be out here grinding just like you guys.’ He was first in a lot of our drills. He just worked, and that was super admirable.”

Blossom was a year younger than Bozeman and said the pair bonded over their competitive spirit, which sometimes erupted during practices.

“Sometimes, as most teams do, things would get a little chippy, but they would always stay on a respectful level,” said Blossom, a power forward. “I can’t say they ever got out of hand to the point where we were mad at each other off the court. But on the court, we would battle, which was a good thing. That made us better as a team.”

Blake and Todd Bozeman

For his career, Bozeman averaged 7.4 points, 2.2 rebounds and 2.0 assists. But as a senior in 2014-15, he compiled 12.4 points on a career-high 35.1% field-goal rate, 2.4 rebounds and 1.7 assists. Blossom said as much as Bozeman sought to feed his teammates, they wanted to return the favor during his senior year.

“Because of his unselfishness, everybody else on our team was unselfish,” he said. “It was a trickle-down effect. He would hit the open man and make the right play, and a lot of times, it would come back to him.”

Black said one of his favorite memories with Bozeman occurred Feb. 3, 2014, when the Bears rallied for a 94-92 double-overtime win against Hampton in a Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference game aired on ESPNU. One of four starters who fouled out, Black credited Bozeman (11 points and three assists) with fueling the team.

“From that point forward, we were like, ‘All right, Blake can play some basketball. This whole coach’s son thing is out the window,’” Black said with a laugh. “It was the first moment where none of that stuff mattered — who was whose favorite, who was the coach’s son. We needed it. It was a big stepping stone for us, and we were able to get the job done with Blake at the helm.”

Blossom said he and Bozeman worked frequently on taking advantage of pick-and-rolls for alley-oop dunks or easy layups. During a game against North Carolina A&T, the pair worked a pick-and-roll to perfection with Blossom slamming home a dunk.

“I turned around to see my teammates’ reactions, and he was on the court practically jumping for joy out of excitement because of my success,” Blossom said. “That is a testament to how unselfish he was and how passionate he was as a player. It was not unusual for him. He did it all the time, and that spoke to his character.”

A business marketing major, Bozeman pursued a career in real estate. He launched Blake Bozeman Realty Services and was recognized by the Prince George’s County Association of Realtors as a Gold Award recipient for reaching $8 million in residential sales.

Blossom said although he was initially surprised that Bozeman did not seek a career in basketball, Bozeman had the talent to excel in selling properties.

“Real estate didn’t surprise me because he was a very vocal guy, and he was good with his words,” Blossom said. “I always admired him for how well he could speak in front of groups and how well he could give team speeches. So because he was so personable, it did not surprise me. Being a real estate agent, you have to deal with people and be able to hold conversations and be persuasive.”

Both Black and Blossom said they were crushed when they heard the tragic news Sunday morning.

Asked to describe what the community lost with Bozeman’s death, Black said, “A good man, a father, someone who did things the right way. In this day and age, it’s very rare to find someone who is a good, solid person, who is a father figure active in his kids’ lives, and somebody who is willing to give back. So we just lost a three-headed monster there, and you don’t get those every day.”