Cracking the Mystery of 'Red' McDavid

"Excuse me," I said. "Do you know Taj?" "Taj?" "Taj McDavid? Some people call him 'Red'..." She paused for a moment. Not for dramatic effect. Just because sometimes people pause. "Ohhhh, Red—the boy who used to dribble the basketball." I nodded. "He's inside his mama's house," she said, nodding toward the white rectangular structure at 9 Brown Street. "Just knock." So, haltingly, I approached, climbed four crudely positioned wood steps and took a deep breath. The home featured white plastic paneling, many of the pieces accented with an unwelcome coat of gold rust. I could hear the faint noise of a TV coming from inside. In the rear, a dog barked.

How Rocker Saga Changed 2 Lives

There is no escape. We are eternally attached. John Loy Rocker will always be a part of my life. And, I suspect, vice versa. We first met on the afternoon of Oct. 15, 1999. It was in the hours leading up to Game 3 of the Braves-Mets National League Championship Series at Shea Stadium, and Dick Friedman, the baseball editor at Sports Illustrated, had assigned me to write a piece about a soon-to-be 25-year-old Braves closer with a sinking 95 mph fastball and a wicked slider.