Alice Campbell Havre Daily News firstname.lastname@example.org
Allen John Long Soldier, a "phenom" basketball player who led Hays-Lodge Pole to a State C basketball championship in 2007, was pronounced dead at Northern Montana Hospital Monday, authorities said. "I was devastated," said Charlie Ereaux who coached Long Soldier during his time spent at Hays-Lodge Pole and also for a year in junior high in Harlem. "I couldn't believe it," he said about how he felt when he first heard the news. Long Soldier, 18, was being held at the Hill County Detention Center when he was transported at 10:26 p.m. Sunday to the Havre hospital, said Sheriff Don Brostrom. He was pronounced dead several hours later. He declined to say what led to the request for medical assistance. Long Soldier was arrested in Blaine County on a warrant for a charge of violation of court order, said Blaine County Attorney Donald Ranstrom. He already had gone to an initial hearing and was scheduled to go before another judge Monday, he added, saying that Long Soldier would not have been detained much longer. Because the offense is listed on a juvenile record, Ranstrom said he could not release additional details. All Blaine County adult detainees are held in Hill County, Ranstrom said. Brostrom said that Long Soldier came in at about 3 Thursday morning. Fergus County Coroner R.J. "Dick" Brown said he received a call shortly after 3 a.m. Monday. An autopsy was performed Monday in Billings. "No apparent cause was found at this time," Brown said. It could take weeks to perform various other tests to pinpoint the cause of death, he added. "In accordance with Montana statute, a civilian coroner from another jurisdiction has been requested," Brostrom released in a written statement. The Montana Department o f Criminal Investigation is investigating the incident, and public information officer Judy Beck confirmed that an agent has been assigned. "And there will probably be a coroner's inquest," she said. "I loved that kid," Ereaux said. "He was one of my guys. I coached him and spent a lot of time with him and stuff, and I also taught him in class." Ereaux remembers him as being "phenomenal" on the court. "He just was ahead of everybody, even in junior high he was ahead of everybody," he said. "He could do it all." He was a solid student, as well, Ereaux recalled. "He was a good student and a great basketball player out here, hardly got in trouble out here." Long Soldier led his school’s basketball team to a State C championship in 2007. He led the team to third in the state tournament the year before, earning a most valuable player award in divisionals in 2006 and MVP awards in divisionals and the state tournament in 2007. But after he transferred to Harlem his junior year, "it kind of fell apart for him," Ereaux said. "He really loved basketball, and he wanted to play bad he did it's just he had a rough life growing up," he said about Long Soldier's absence from the game he loved after his transfer. "I never once counted him out. When people would say stuff about him. I'd always stick up for him because people can change," he said about Long Soldier. Long Soldier’s problems might have had something to do with the pressure of being a star athlete, Ereaux said an athlete often deals with pressure from the community, teammates and even family, he said. Many Division I schools were "drooling" over Long Soldier, he said. Ereaux said he saw Long Soldier last year after his completion of a treatment program. "He sounded like things were going good." Long Soldier enrolled as a freshman at Haskell Indian Nations University in Kansas but withdrew Oct. 21, according to the registrar's office, for personal reasons. "A.J. will be missed, but he will not be forgotten," Ereaux said. "He left a legacy out here in Hays- Lodge Pole, and it's a shame that he died. There's a lot of hurt people around here. He made a lot of hope for a lot of people."