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Rico Harris always made an impression. If not for his athletic ability, he was recruited by the NBA after he graduated high school, then for his sheer size. At 6'9", Rico would tower over most people. The gentle giant also had some big issues though, including an addiction problem that would taint most of his adult life. Things seemed to be looking up before Rico disappeared altogether.
In the 1990s, Rico was sought after by many colleges for their basketball teams and even had the NBA sending him messages about skipping school to join a team. It was a refreshing time for the star basketball player. He had long promised to help support his mother and make sure she was taken care of. He chose to go to school in Arizona. It was this choice that many say signaled the beginning of a severe problem for the gentle giant.
While at school, he and some teammates faced some disciplinary action for false imprisonment. Nothing happened to them, but Rico would soon leave the school because he was drinking a lot and unable to pass classes. He then joined the basketball team at Los Angeles City College. Things went from bad to worse, he was drinking a lot and was given a six-game suspension for being intoxicated. He left the school shortly after that.
After leaving school, he joined the Harlem Globetrotters. It was a professional high and should have been the beginning of something special for Rico. But after just a few months on the job, he left. Some people blame his addiction to alcohol, while others say that he was nursing an injury from breaking up a bar fight. In either case, his leaving exasperated the substance abuse problem, and it came to a head.
Rico went to rehab and got clean. After leaving the clinic, he worked as a cook for The Salvation Army, which led to him being hired as a security guard. It was during an event that he met his girlfriend, Jennifer Song. In a meet-cute moment worthy of rom-com treatment, Rico snapped Jennifer's picture and asked if he could text it to her—their bond grew from that moment.
Soon they grew serious and agreed to move in together, albeit Rico would be relocating to Seattle. He had moved his belongings up to the new house, he went back to say goodbye to his mom. Here's where some stories begin to diverge significantly. Rico's mom claims that she encouraged him to stay the night at her house since he had been awake for more than 30 hours. Friends say that's not true and there was an argument, and Rico was forced to leave the house.
In either case, it was the last time that Rico was ever seen alive. On October 13, 2014, a Yolo County Cop saw an abandoned black Nissan in a parking lot. He made a note of it and ran the plates. It belonged to Rico. He was nowhere to be found. The next day, when the cop came back, and the car was there, he called to have it towed. Interestingly, the battery in the car was dead.
A family found a cell phone and leather bag filled with clothes. They searched it to see who it belonged to, but the phone was dead, and there was no wallet or identification inside the bag. The cops charged the phone and watched the last video that was taken.
It involved Rico rifling through papers in the glove compartment, and muttering swears. Nobody is sure what he was looking for. After that, the only clues as to his whereabouts were some footprints going into the woods.
This lead police to believe that Rico had simply decided to disappear and start a new life. It seems like a foolish theory since someone of Rico's stature and even fame level could not go unrecognized for very long. Maybe he would be considered D-list at best, but that would be enough for some fans to recognize him. And his height makes him stand out in every crowd, literally.
There are some theories that Rico committed suicide. It is a sad theory to contemplate, but one that cannot be as easily dismissed as he quietly went about living undetected. He did have issues with addiction and had recently relapsed. Yet, the future seemed bright for him and Jennifer Song. They discussed marriage and possibly even having babies. He was hesitant, not wanting to burden a baby with the issues he had. The biggest problem with this theory is that his body was not found. His sheer size alone means someone would have come across the body by now.
A new theory has emerged that Rico was pulled over and things escalated. This was just after the Ferguson, Missouri police killed Michael Brown and police brutality was being highlighted left and right on the news. Rico filming his pullover then would make sense, and explain why he was looking in his glove box for papers. The cop could have grown agitated and ordered the giant out of the car. If Rico had been drinking, maybe he ran. The cop could have shot him in the woods and realized what he had done. A coverup would not be hard to pull off in this case.
The truth about what happened to Rico Harris may never be known. If it is a coverup, there is no way for the police department to come forward and tell the truth now. Especially, since they put forth such a foolish and easily disproven theory out there.