Football team suffers tragic loss

The Miami Hurricanes football team tragically lost a member of its family Thursday morning.
Al Blades, a defensive back for the Hurricanes from 1996-2000, died in a car accident after celebrating his 26th birthday.
The driver of the car, Martel Johnson, 26, also died as his Mazda hit a bridge abutment and careened into a canal. Witnesses told South Florida newspapers that the crash was a result of a race between Johnson’s car and another unidentified car.
Miami-Dade Fire Rescue took Blades to Parkway Regional Medical Center in North Miami Beach, but Blades had already died as a result of drowning.
“The University of Miami is deeply saddened to learn of the death of one of our former football players, Al Blades,” head coach Larry Coker said. “Our heartfelt sympathy goes out to the Blades family.”
Blades death comes only a little over a year after ex-Hurricane football player Chris Campbell died when his car hit a tree.
“Chris Campbell was my roommate and that kind of put things in perspective for me at one point in my life, and time went on and I started to relax,” wide receiver Kevin Beard said. “This happening refocuses you, you take things more seriously and you appreciate more things.”
Beard attended Plantation High School in Ft. Lauderdale where Blades played football in the mid-90s.
The Hurricanes conducted their third spring practice Friday despite having lost one of their most spirited ex-teammates. Although Blades last played on the team in 2000, he stayed in touch with many of the players and people involved with the program.
When he played for the ‘Canes, Blades was known for his high intensity and big hits on the playing field and his kind heartedness and sense of humor off of the field.
“He was always the leader of the party on and off the field and having fun and getting everybody going and a motivator,” offensive line coach Art Kehoe said. “It’s a shame.”
Blades also had two older brothers, Bennie and Brian, who played for Miami in the 80’s and went on to have long careers in the NFL.
Blades leaves behind a three-year-old son named Al Jr.
“I talked to a lot of his friends and they said his son is just like him, and he always wants to be around his dad,” Beard said. “And that just goes to show you what kind of man he was.”
The Miami-Dade County Medical Examiner’s office performed an autopsy on Friday, but blood-alcohol reports will not be available till later this week.
Mt. Olive Baptist Church in Ft. Lauderdale will hold the funeral services at 1 p.m. on March 29 and the service is open to the public.

-The Hurricanes held a short scrimmage at Greentree Practice Field on Saturday and will continue practice this week. They will hold another scrimmage this Friday at Lockhart Stadium in Ft. Lauderdale at 6 p.m. The public is welcome to attend the scrimmage.

Nate Johnson can be reached at

March 25, 2003


The Miami Hurricane

Student newspaper at the University of Miami

Around the Web

The University of Miami community is invited to participate in several events to discuss crucial topics regarding social justice and racial equality, explored in Ijeoma Oluo’s best-seller. ...

University writing experts weigh in on the inaugural poem, written and recited by Amanda Gorman, a 22-year-old U.S. youth poet laureate. ...

The number of ambassadors has been increased from 75 to 100 as the University continues to support a safe environment and help students adhere to COVID-19 guidelines. ...

The series—which will feature experts discussing their groundbreaking research on corals, ocean and atmospheric science, and how climate change is forcing communities to alter their long-range plans—will begin this week. ...

Octavia Bridges—a 20-year veteran of the University of Miami Police Department and the first Black woman to serve as a lieutenant—has been promoted to oversee crime prevention and community relations on the Coral Gables Campus. ...

TMH Twitter
About Us

The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published in print every Tuesday.