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Erving Makes Plea for Missing Son

June 14, 2000

SANFORD, Fla. (AP) _ What was supposed to be a 20-minute trip to a Lake Mary shopping mall on Memorial Day weekend has turned into the 2 1/2 week disappearance of NBA great Julius Erving’s 19-year-old son.

Since that errand to buy bread for a family cookout on May 28, there has been no word or clues to the whereabouts or fate of Cory Marvin Erving.

Before the disappearance, Erving’s easygoing younger son was working to put teen drug use behind him and earn his high school equivalency after years of dealing with a learning disability.

Despite fielding more than 60 tips, according to Wednesday’s Philadelphia Daily News, on the hot line set up specifically for this missing persons case, the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office reported no major developments as of late Tuesday.

That was hours after Julius Erving, executive vice president of the Orlando Magic, appeared in a nationally televised news conference with his wife and their three other adult children. Erving asked for the nation’s help in finding _ and safely returning _ his son.

``I’m begging, wishing, hoping and I’m praying,″ said the Hall of Famer and former NBA MVP.

Erving openly discussed his son’s learning disability and his drug problems that date back to when Cory was 14.

``Since eighth grade he has been in special classes to deal with the disability ... it’s a mild form of dyslexia,″ Erving noted, while describing a very close family in shock and pain over the disappearance.

``There has never been one time when there has ever been a lack of communication in our family. ... For Cory to be out of the circle brings about great concern,″ he said.

According to Wednesday’s Philadelphia Inquirer, family members said Cory Erving had rarely gone more than three days without contacting them. But he has run away once before, according to Sheriff’s Department spokesman Steve Olson.

Olson said the Erving family filed a missing persons report for Cory in January, 1999, a disappearance that began when he ran away from a drug rehabilitation center as his mother was dropping him off for court-ordered treatment.

Cory Erving was arrested in early April for possession of alcohol by a person under age 21.

In July 1998, Cory and his brother Cheo, 27, were arrested in nearby Altamonte Springs. Police stopped the two in a parking lot about 3 a.m., near a car with a door open that appeared to have its glove compartment rifled.

Police said they found a crack pipe in Cheo Erving’s pocket. Cory was charged with burglary of a motor vehicle _ a felony _ and loitering and prowling, but charges were dropped in juvenile court.

His family described Cory as a fun-loving prankster.

``Sometimes, just in support of him, we would tease him about all the diplomas he’s garnered from drug rehab centers. ... He has about five or six of them,″ his father said in subdued tones.

``This bad dream has gone on for 16 days now ... 16 bad days,″ Erving said. ``We are in dire need of help.″

When they first believed something was amiss, the Ervings tried to find Cory with the help of a private investigator. Then, on June 4, they filed a missing-persons report.

A $25,000 reward is being offered for the son’s safe return, and Seminole County Sheriff Don Eslinger reports the search has expanded, with his office passing along information on Cory to law enforcement authorities nationwide.

``We’ve had no critical witnesses whom we have gleaned information about his whereabouts,″ Eslinger acknowledged. ``We’ve exhausted many leads.″

According to the Philadelphia Daily News, Cory was known to hang out in the east Altamonte Springs area, a neighborhood police say is a ``distribution point″ for crack cocaine.

Investigators say Cory got into a fight with someone in that neighborhood just days before he disappeared, but they declined to release details on that altercation.

Fliers put out by the sheriff’s office list Cory Erving as a ``Missing and Endangered Adult″. Officials said that was because his whereabouts are not known, and that the description does not imply physical or mental impairment.

The flier also said he ``may be in the company of a white female with blonde hair who may drive a white vehicle,″ without giving any further details.

``I’ll put a pair of sneakers on and search the grounds. I’ll do anything that the Doc needs,″ Philadelphia 76ers President Pat Croce said.

``Doc is a huge friend of mine, and he is the Sixers family. Cory and my son played basketball together when they were little kids together. It wrenches my heart and gives me a knot in my stomach to know that he’s missing. It’s the worst feeling for any parent.″

Last year, Julius Erving acknowledged he is the father of tennis player Alexandra Stevenson. Her mother, sports writer Samantha Stevenson, raised her as a single parent.

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