Friends say Doster unlikely victim of violence

Updated: December 27, 2004, 9:57 PM ET
Associated Press

TAMPA, Fla. -- Friends of affable Vanderbilt Commodores football star Kwane Doster remembered him Monday as a quiet young man, unlikely ever to be a victim of violent death.

It's nothing you can learn to cope with when something as senseless as this happens for no reason, for no reason at all.
Vandy junior Erik Davis

The running back was fatally shot early Sunday as he and two friends sat in a car in the parking lot of a fast-food restaurant in Ybor City, Tampa's historic nightclub area. His companions were not injured.

No motive for the shooting has been established, Tampa Police Lt. William Ferguson said. Police said they do not know if Doster was the intended target.

"He's the last person on the team who we thought would die this way," said Vanderbilt running backs coach Kenny Carter, who came to Tampa from Nashville, Tenn., to help the family.

He described Doster, 21, as a popular player, "a good kid; that's why all our players were so drawn to him."

Vanderbilt coach Bobby Johnson said Doster's death is the toughest situation he has dealt with as a coach.

"I've had other things happen that were tragic. This is the first time a violent act has taken somebody away from us," Johnson said in Nashville.

Johnson learned the news in a telephone call just before 5 a.m. ET while in Charleston, S.C., with his wife for Christmas.

"That's why I always have my phone on. You know those calls in the early morning aren't going to be good. I was just shocked and devastated. It was just hard to believe, hard to believe," he said.

Ruben Doster said his nephew was "a likable guy, not a talkative person. He was quiet. Go to a party, you'd never know he was there."

No arrests have been made, police said Monday. They found the orange Infiniti that they believe stopped next to the vehicle in which Doster was a passenger, and said they know who the owner is. Police said someone inside the Infiniti fired a hail of bullets, hitting Doster once.

"We are talking to a number of people," police spokesman Joe Durkin said.

Doster, a junior majoring in human and organizational development, had hopes of a career in sports management and was looking forward to graduation in 2006, according to his mother, Kelly Doster.

"He was the most beautiful son a mother might want to have," she said Monday, standing in the yard of their modest, sun-splashed home set in a quiet, middle-class neighborhood. "He made life so easy. He was just a born leader."

She said his loss has been "unbearable." However, she knows her Kwane's siblings will look to her for support.

"I know I have to be strong for my daughter and my son and grandson," she said.

She said Kwane spent Christmas Day at home with family. They ate a typical southern-style dinner, featuring dressing, turkey, oxtails, collard greens, rice and his favorite dish -- macaroni and cheese.

About midnight, he said he was going out with friends. Two hours later, she was awakened by a phone call from the hospital where he had been taken.

In Nashville, junior wide receiver Erik Davis spoke about Doster for a few minutes before breaking down.

"It's nothing you can learn to cope with when something as senseless as this happens for no reason, for no reason at all," Davis said.

Vanderbilt Chancellor Gordon Gee has chartered an airplane to take school officials, coaches and football players to Tampa for Doster's funeral Friday afternoon.

Doster was one of the first recruits Johnson brought to Vanderbilt after being hired in December 2001. Doster was a former standout athlete at Robinson High School, where he played both football and baseball. He became the first Vanderbilt player ever recognized as the Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Year in 2002 after setting a team record with 798 yards rushing.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press