Football player severely injured

Football player severely injured

Rodrigo Azurmendi, Ryan Kuhn and Julian Williamson

The vibe in the waiting room of the Surgical Intensive Care Unit was cold and somber. Brett Malone was resting with his feet up trying to gather his thoughts. Down the hall his son is fighting for his life.

Saddleback football player Jamal Malone, 20, was on the football field four weeks ago. Now he lies in a coma.

Following a brawl allegedly between former teammates, Malone remains in critical but stable condition at Mission Hospital.

The 5’10”, 165-pound sophomore defensive back underwent surgery last Tuesday to relieve inter-cranial pressure from his brain swelling according to his mother, Yolanda on a posted website.

A fight broke out Sept. 23 before 2 a.m. at the Promenade Apartments on Marguerite Parkway in which Malone was punched, hitting his head on the pavement. Heavy drinking reportedly took place shortly before the altercation broke out said Orange County Sheriff’s spokesman Jim Amormino.

Sophomore Ashley Gollwitzer was in attendance and witnessed the series of events that occurred.

“I saw Jamal go down and hard,” said Gollwitzer, 20, kinesiology. “He landed on the back of his head.”

Gollwitzer said the fight started when former Saddleback football player Chad Duran and his friends verbally attacked Malone and her, along with other football players including Mikah Pada and Shanon Arnold.

“Next thing I know, Mikah got punched in the face by Chad,” Gollwitzer said.

She said that she stepped in but was also thrown to the ground by Duran.

“I got beat up too,” Gollwitzer said. “It was a bad night.”

Police later arrested Duran, 18, Nigel Kawai, 18, Wallace Rodrigues, 18 and an unidentified minor on charges including assault with a deadly weapon and conspiracy to commit great bodily harm. Later they were released on $25,000 bail each, authorities said.

Malone and Duran were teammates on the Saddleback football team this year playing in one game together but according to the college’s athletic department, Duran left the team three weeks ago.

“He left on his own [decision],” said Athletic Director Tony Lipold. “It was during a scrimmage in which he got a little upset and walked off.”

Malone’s parents, Brett and Yolanda, flew in from their home in Nebraska to be at their son’s side.

“There are no words to express our appreciation for the rally in support of Jamal,” Brett Malone said. “We ask you to keep him in your prayers.”

Friends Kylee Clouse, 19, liberal arts, and Brittanie Rivoli, 19, liberal arts, have set up a foundation in Malone’s honor and are accepting donations for his recovery and his family at Caringbridge.org.

“Jamal is unbelievably outgoing and uplifting. He’s always the life of the party,” Clouse said. “We are putting this fundraiser on to support Jamal and his family.”

During Saturday’s football game, the team hung his jersey behind the bench to show support for their fallen teammate.

“We love Jamal,” said Saddleback head football coach Mark McElroy. “We are hoping for the best.”

Other events that will be helping Malone include wristbands for sale at Riptide where he works as a waiter and a donation box at Starbucks on Oso Parkway by Tesoro High School, his alma mater.

Lipold said Saddleback also plans to sell wristbands during its next home game on Oct. 13 for $5.

“He is a very positive person,” Rivoli said. “He wouldn’t let anything keep him down.”

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