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Malik Sealy Mourned at Funeral

May 26, 2000

NEW YORK (AP) _ Malik Sealy’s family, teammates and friends gathered today for the funeral of the Minnesota Timberwolves player killed in a crash by a man charged with drunken driving.

Former St. John’s coach Lou Carnesecca and current coach Mike Jarvis were among the strong contingent from Sealy’s former university that attended the service at Riverside Church, not far from where the 30-year-old forward grew up in the Bronx.

Reggie Miller, wearing dark glasses, and Mark Jackson were there from the Indiana Pacers, who were in New York for playoff games with the Knicks.

Buses pulled up alongside the stately church overlooking the Hudson River, and mourners entered to grieve one of the Timberwolves’ most popular players.

Sealy, who helped the Timberwolves to their best season in franchise history this year, was returning from a birthday celebration for Garnett when he was killed in a head-on crash.

At a private service Thursday at St. James Church in Manhattan, Timberwolves forward Kevin Garnett spoke publicly for the first time since Sealy’s death.

Garnett, who spent most of the two-hour service hunched over in a front-row pew, his head clasped in his hands, crying, broke into a grin when he got up near the end of the service to address the hundreds of mourners, the Saint Paul Pioneer Press reported.

``The reason I’m smiling is because this is how I last remember my man ... hundreds and hundreds of times,″ Garnett said.

The smile soon vanished. Garnett broke down again and covered his face with one of his hands.

``I’m not afraid to cry, you know?″ he said after a while.

Souksangouane Phengsene, charged with three counts of vehicular homicide in Sealy’s death, had his first court appearance postponed Thursday because he was still hospitalized. It was rescheduled for Tuesday.

Investigators have said Phengsene, 43, of Minneapolis, was driving the wrong way on a highway in suburban St. Louis Park early Saturday when his pickup smashed into Sealy’s sport utility vehicle.

Prosecutors said Phengsene had a blood-alcohol level of nearly twice the legal limit. Sealy also had been drinking before the crash, but his blood alcohol level was 0.08 percent, within the legal limit of 0.10 percent.

Sealy was the second NBA player killed in a car accident this year. Charlotte Hornets guard Bobby Phills died Jan. 12, when he and teammate David Wesley were racing their Porsches after a morning practice.

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