UNC's Brown is expected to play

Updated: September 24, 2003, 1:06 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- North Carolina starting center Jason Brown learned Sunday that his brother was killed in Iraq, the Raleigh News & Observer reported Wednesday.

Brown, a junior, was informed his brother, Specialist Lunsford B. Brown II, had died from mortar fire on Saturday, the paper said.

According to the newspaper's report, Maj. Steve Stover, an Army spokesman, confirmed Tuesday that Lunsford Brown, 27, was one of two soldiers killed in an attack in Abu Gareeb, Iraq on Saturday. Stover told the News & Observer that Brown was a member of the 302nd Military Intelligence Battalion based in Germany.

After receiving the news, North Carolina coach John Bunting drove Jason Brown home to Henderson, N.C., the paper reported. Buntin and assistant athletics director Corey Holliday remained with the Brown family throughout the day before returning to Chapel Hill.

Jason Brown returned to practice on Tuesday afternoon and is expected to play Saturday, according to the News & Observer.

"My family is dealing with a tremendous and tragic loss," Brown said in a statement released by the university. "My heart is still with them in Henderson, but I chose to come back today because the football team is my second family. It means a lot to have so many people here in Chapel Hill who care for me and know what our family is going through."

In a telephone interview with the News & Observer, Brown's mother, Deborah, said the family is planning to attend Saturday's game at NC State. She told the paper she had encouraged Jason to return to school and the team.

Holliday, who is in charge of player relations, told the paper that bereavement counselors from the university's Center for Healthy Student Behaviors are available to talk with players. Jason's professors will be contacted by the team's academic support staff, according to the paper.