A college marching band’s hazing ritual claims the life of a star clarinet player:
“The young man stood at the front of Bus C, his ribs rising and falling with each breath. Before him stood about 20 members of one of the best marching bands in the world, Florida A&M’s Marching 100, which had performed for presidents and before a televised Super Bowl audience of 106 million, and now, on a Saturday night last fall, was gathered in the dark inside Bus C, parked behind the Rosen Plaza Hotel off International Drive in Orlando, not far from Pizza Hut and T.G.I. Friday’s. The doors of Bus C were closed and the lights were out, and at the rear of the bus sat two panting people who had been beaten about the torso and were now trying to recover. The man was about to vomit and the woman would later tell detectives that she had been hit and kicked until she was unconscious. The young man waiting at the front of the bus was Robert Champion.
“He played the clarinet, played it so well that he had rocketed through the ranks of the band and had been appointed drum major, one of six students who wore white uniforms and carried batons and led the band, high-stepping, onto the field. He was in line to become head drum major the following year, the equivalent to a starting quarterback on a world-famous team of 350.”