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Ex-NFL player faces charges

Troy Hambrick helped Pasco High become state football champion in 1993.

By JAMAL THALJI, Times Staff Writer
Published December 13, 2007


DADE CITY - Once, the name Troy Hambrick was synonymous with athletic glory.

He and elder brother Darren Hambrick helped lead Pasco High School to the county's only state football championship in 1993. A year later, no one in Florida scored more touchdowns than Troy. He went on to carry the ball in college and then the pros.

Now the former NFL running back and Pasco County football great is in serious trouble. Troy Hambrick, 31, was indicted by a federal grand jury on charges he sold crack cocaine.

"You never wanna hear anything negative or bad about your former players," said his old Pasco High coach, Perry Brown. "Hopefully it's not true."

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The indictment was returned on Dec. 6, according to federal records, and charged the younger Hambrick brother - a.k.a. Troy Grant - with three felony counts of selling, distributing or dispensing narcotics.

Federal authorities accused the Lacoochee father of selling the narcotic on three occasions: 5 or more grams Sept. 7; 50 grams or more Sept. 14 and Sept. 27.

If convicted, Troy Hambrick could face between five and 20 years in federal prison.

The alleged drug sales occurred just weeks before Hambrick began his football comeback.

He signed a free-agent contract Nov. 9 with the Utah Blaze of the Arena Football League. Training camp was set to begin Feb. 6.

But Hambrick was waived by the team late Wednesday, hours after a Times reporter called the league office seeking comment. A team spokeswoman would not comment on his situation.

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The indictment offers no more details about the federal case against Hambrick.

U.S. Attorney's Office spokesman Steve Cole, whose agency will prosecute Hambrick, said he could not comment or release any more information. The Drug Enforcement Administration, which led the investigation, also declined to comment.

"He is not in custody," Cole sad. "They are looking for him."

Hambrick could turn himself in or be taken into custody any number of ways.

Hambrick's whereabouts were unknown Wednesday and he could not be reached for comment. His brother's attorney, Aldo Ojeda, said Darren Hambrick also had no comment.

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A year after Pasco High beat Tampa's Jesuit High School 28-16 for the Class 3A title, Troy Hambrick enjoyed his best season ever. He led the state in scoring with 222 points and was named the St. Petersburg Times' Suncoast Player of the Year.

"I never had any problems with the Hambricks," said Brown, the former coach. "They were both captains on the team. I don't recall any of them having discipline problems. They never even missed practices.

But since then the Hambrick name has grown more and more tarnished.

Coach Steve Spurrier booted Darren Hambrick off the University of Florida football team after he fought and injured a teammate before the 1995 Sugar Bowl.

He ended up at the University of South Carolina. Troy Hambrick followed him there, where he was arrested in 1997 on a charge of intent to sell marijuana. The case was later dropped.

The Dallas Cowboys drafted Darren Hambrick in the fifth round in 1998.

A year later South Carolina coach Lou Holtz dismissed Troy Hambrick from the Gamecock football team. He finished his career at Division I-AA Savannah State in Georgia.

Troy Hambrick went undrafted but signed with Dallas in 2000, reuniting the brothers in football for the last time. After five years in the NFL, Troy Hambrick's career ended in 2004. He ran for 2,179 yards and nine touchdowns.

The Hambrick brothers returned home to Lacoochee after football.

In 2005 Troy Hambrick was arrested on a charge of domestic battery. The Pasco County Sheriff's Office accused him of choking and scratching his wife. But prosecutors dropped the charge because his wife refused to cooperate.

Since Darren Hambrick's football career ended, he has served probation for cashing an NFL check he reported stolen and became embroiled as a witness in the Alfredie Steele Jr. case. Steele is the 24-year-old serving a life sentence for the 2003 slaying of Pasco sheriff's Lt. Charles "Bo" Harrison.

Darren Hambrick's most recent troubles include two counts of misdemeanor battery from a 2006 brawl that have yet to be resolved.

His comeback this summer with the AFL also ended before it began. Like his brother, he was cut before he played one snap.

Staff Writer Molly Moorhead and researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report. Jamal Thalji can be reached at thalji@sptimes.com or 727 869-6236.