AP Photos CAPS101-102

Updated: August 6, 2003, 7:33 PM ET

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Patrick Dennehy, the Baylor basketball player whose body was found in an off-campus field, had become a born-again Christian during a fiery sermon, so his pastor says it's only fitting his memory is celebrated in an equally fervent way.

That includes a scripture reading by hip-hop star MC Hammer, live video on the Web and a Sacramento Kings jersey emblazoned with Dennehy's name, said pastor Dick Bernal.

More than 3,000 people are expected for the nondenominational memorial Thursday at Jubilee Christian Center, in the heart of Silicon Valley.

The 21-year-old athlete's body was found late last month, weeks after he disappeared from Waco, Texas.

Dennehy's death has been ruled a homicide. Former roommate and teammate Carlton Dotson, 21, was arrested and charged with murder July 21 after reportedly telling authorities he shot Dennehy after Dennehy tried to shoot him.

Dennehy went to Baylor after being kicked off the team at New Mexico because of his temper, but Bernal said Dennehy had come around.

"I won't try to deify the man -- he was still a young man, after all," Bernal said. "But people were really impressed with Patrick's new lease on life since he found Jesus. He was looking forward to a great life and wanted to live by the book."

Bernal said the transformation came last summer when Dennehy, a 6-foot-10 forward, was staying with a family friend near San Jose. He asked to spend a Friday night at a movie theater, and the friend said fine -- but only if he joined her at Bible class first.

"When I got up and did my sermon, he was listening intently. At the end, I invited him to change his life, to get more God in his life," Bernal said. "Tears were coming down his face."


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