Darius Porter’s photo on the Lasers basketball wall. (John Payne)
Former Irvine Valley College Lasers basketball player, Darius Porter, was killed on the evening on Oct. 21 after being hit by oncoming traffic on the northbound lane of the Santa Ana Freeway.
Official cause of death to be determined but coroner’s report stated that he was struck by multiple vehicles and killed at 6:47 p.m.
First-hand witness Kenneth Bennett told Mission Viejo Patch that he had seen Porter hurl himself in front of the first vehicle on Marguerite Parkway, then pulled over and tried unsuccessfully to convince Porter to stay at the scene. Porter then ran, with a head injury, toward Burlington Coat Factory and the witness lost him.
According to Orange County Sheriff’s Department Porter then ran onto the Santa Ana Freeway onramp at Avery Parkway.
Lt. Jeffrey Hallock, spokesperson for the Orange County Sheriff’s Department said in an email that the “case is still under investigation and they have yet to determine ‘accident’ or ‘suicide.'”
Brent Shaver, IVC’s Sports Information Director said, “It was a shock to hear it.”
Porter played small forward as a freshman for IVC last season. He attended Temescal Canyon High School in Lake Elsinore, Calif. IVC recruited him from the basketball program, but he chose to go to another school up north, according to IVC Men’s Basketball Coach Jerry Hernandez. He eventually moved to San Clemente where he had relatives and made his way to IVC.
Jerry Hernandez, IVC men’s basteball coach released a statement the morning of Oct. 24.
“On behalf of Irvine Valley College, we want to express our sincere condolences to the family and friends of Darius Porter. The Irvine Valley family was deeply saddened to hear the news of his death. Darius will truly be missed. In the year that he was part of our program, we knew him as a great teammate and friend. We have offered counseling support, if needed, to our players during this tough time. Again, our heartfelt sympathy and prayers go out to everyone who knew, cared for and loved Darius. We are sorry for their loss.”
Porter had many friends on the team and was well liked.
Hernandez had formed a relationship with Porter when Porter chose to attend IVC. Porter opened up to Hernandez about his personal life and his struggles, Hernandez said.
“At the end of the season he was struggling academically, financially, and he kind of decided, ‘Hey, coach, I want to play basketball and go to school but it’s just been challenging financially to support myself,’ and he chose not to come back,” Hernandez said.
Hernandez said he did not see signs of suicide but was always concerned when Porter would leave campus.
“Socially, athletically and personally he interacted comfortably like any other team member. I was concerned when his grades started to fall and he started to show signs of losing his confidence a little bit,” Hernandez said. “We’d try to remind Darius, ‘Hey, you’re only a freshman, you still have another year,’ but we could kind of see signs he was losing his self-esteem.”
Men’s basketball team manager Andrea Gonzales also said she did not see signs.
“I didn’t think it would have gotten this far,” Gonzales said. “I didn’t, honestly didn’t see signs. I haven’t hung out with him probably for a month and a half or so but I didn’t think it was that bad whatever it was. I was surprised.”
Gonzales was a close friend of Porter’s.
“I was actually collecting the balls and one of my teammates told me and I just went numb and then I ran outside of the gym and just started crying,” Gonzales said. “I didn’t know what to do. I was really shocked and it just even up to now it’s unreal. It’s just unreal.”
Gonzales remembers Porter as a light-hearted friend who always had good times together.
“He was hilarious. We had great times. Every time we hung out we would always just laugh,” Gonzales said. “Even today and yesterday I would break out into laughter just thinking of funny times we’ve had just hanging out. Whether it was eating Mongolian barbecue down by Saddleback or just hanging out at the mall or something. I’m just going to miss him a lot.”
As a basketball player, Porter was supported and said to have natural athletic ability.
Hernandez believed in Porter’s athletic capabilities.
“Darius was very athletic,” Hernandez said. “I think had he been able to stay on academically and emotionally stayed on track and didn’t have all the other variables in his life, and been able to take care of himself financially, then he would have been a scholarship player, capable of perhaps division two. His potential was great.”
Porter appeared in six games for the Lasers. He shot 2-4 from the field, and made five of six freethrow attempts.
“We knew that emotionally and socially and whatever other aspects he had, he had some problems with,” Hernandez said. “But we thought he had done a little bit of outside work and going to some organizations to help him deal with some of those. It wasn’t an issue so much for us because he was stable, but we could always tell what was going in his personal life because for us, we don’t have dorms we’re a commuter school. When he left here he was juggling a lot of things and we were disappointed he didn’t come back but we understood. He was kind enough to share some of his problems with us and we were open to help him get back into school and be able to be here this year but apparently there was just too many obstacles.”
Jerry Hernandez IVC men’s basketball coach talks about Darius Porter. (John Payne)