Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Elijah Dukes

When Elijah Dukes went after a friend of mine with a bat last year, I thought it was an accident.

I had no idea that the guy was actually flat-out dangerous and no-doubt crazy.

Barely six weeks after threatening to kill his estranged wife, Dukes, a massively talented Devil Rays' outfielder, it has been revealed, has knocked up the then-17-year-old foster daughter of his step-grandmother.

Let's go through the play-by-play of Dukes' last four years, as best as I can piece it together:

Dukes fathers a child with NiShea Gilbert in 2003. It is his first child. He's 19.

His second child is born about a week later--to another woman, obviously.

Gilbert sues Dukes in 2005 for child support for their first child, and he is ordered to pay $222 per month.

In October 2005, Dukes is hit with a restraining order by the mother of his second child, and ordered to take an anger management course. Perhaps Dukes slept through the course.

He has three more children--one each in 2004, 2005, and 2006--with three different women, including his second with Gilbert. They marry in February 2006...five months before Dukes' fifth child is born to a fourth mother.

Dukes and Gilbert separate sometime in late 2006 or early 2007.

A few months later, Dukes has consensual sex with his 17-year-old foster sister/aunt/cousin (select the proper term for the foster daughter of your step-grandmother). That's sometime in February, based on the now-18-year-old-girl's November due date. Dukes broke no laws: in Florida, it's legal for 16- and 17-year-olds to have consensual sex with anyone under 23.

Two months after that, in April, Dukes shows up in the junior high classroom where Gilbert teaches and threatens her. He is escorted from the building by security, and later text messages her a picture of a gun. He leaves her terrifying, profane and threatening voicemails as well.

And now, this month, when the 18-year-old tells him that she's pregnant with his child, he responds by throwing a bottle of Gatorade at her.

That's six children by five mothers, at least three of whom he has committed or threatened violence against. Dukes turns 23 on Tuesday.

(Incidentally, this chronology only focuses on his issues with women. I'm leaving out many, many other incidents involving drugs, suspensions from baseball for on-field incidents, and other things that would be embarrassing to people with a sense of shame.)

Question: Dukes has a right to a job until he's locked up (which I simply think is inevitable). What's the best way to deal with him, or any dangerous guy who's due to blow up at any time? We're not talking about a guy from a rough background having difficulty adjusting to a new lifestyle. We're talking about a man who doesn't understand that his behavior harms others, or else doesn't believe that other people exist.

For what it's worth though, all 6 of his kids were conceived in the off-season. Is it possible that baseball could actually increase his chances of settling and becoming a member of society? Or will it make it worse? (After all, he told his wife that since he plays baseball, "no one can f--- with me.")

This isn't written clearly, but I guess I want to know what we do with a coiled-spring possible psychopath, famous or otherwise, who hasn't yet done anything to get himself locked up. Any ideas?


tommyspoon said...

Well, banishment or the Death Penalty immediately spring to mind. Seriously, I don't believe there is any "reforming" in this guy, although I want to believe otherwise. His only hope is for someone or something to crack that narcissistic shell. I have no idea what could make that happen, but that's what he needs. Otherwise, we're all just waiting for the other shoe to drop, aren't we?

TeacherRefPoet said...

I feel more or less the same way. Here's my question: If you owned the D-Rays (or the Nats, who were thinking of trading for the guy), what steps would you take to prevent the guy from doing something really terrible (by which I mean more so than what he's done so far)?

Is Dukes better off in baseball, or would he be better off getting canned? (And by better off, I mean more likely to get his act together.)

tommyspoon said...

You bring to mind an interesting question that I have had for a long time: can an employer (mine or a professional sports team) "manage" someone's personal life in an effective way? I say the answer is a resounding "NO", but others (such as yourself) hold the opinion that if someone can stay with a particular organization they can be rehabilitated. (Randy Moss to the Patriots, anyone?)

Dukes may be right. Dukes may be crazy. But Dukes just might be a lunatic the D-Rays are looking for.

Turn out the lights. Don't try to save him. He may be wrong for all they know, but he may be right.

TeacherRefPoet said...

To be fair, Spoon, I never said I hold the opinion that someone can be rehabilitated by an employer. I'm not confident that they can. I just posed the question. Philosophically, however, I feel it's our job to try to help each other out in this world, even (especially!) the truly troubled like Dukes. Consequently, shouldn't an employer at least make an effort, as the Rays are?

Dukes hasn't been convicted of anything (yet) isn't it in the interests of everybody to work with him? Is it okay to fire somebody for being an ass at home if he/she's doing his/her job effectively?

tommyspoon said...

Is it okay to fire somebody for being an ass at home if he/she's doing his/her job effectively?

Absolutely not. But let me ask you this: You have an employee who does their job very well. But at company functions gets drunk and pukes his guts out on a regular basis. No clients are around to witness this behavior, but it's obvious to everyone that this person has a drinking problem. So, you try to talk some sense to this person. He denies that there is a problem. You offer assistance and counseling. He tells you to stay out of his personal life and mind his own business.

What do you do?

I think that's the situation that Dukes is now in. And it closely parallels a situation that is taking place at a friend's workplace. And it is all too common in this country. The only difference with Dukes is that it is played out in the sports pages and on ESPN.

If Dukes wants help to turn his life around, then his employer should help. But if he refuses that help, then the employer is left in limbo, waiting the other shoe to drop. Which usually means grounds for termination.

BTW, I didn't mean for my last comment to sound as snarky as it did. I was called away to a meeting and posted it without editing. Didn't mean to ruffle your feathers, if indeed they were ruffled.

TeacherRefPoet said...


Feathers unruffled. You'd know if they were ruffled.

I think we 100% agree. The Rays are trying hard to help Dukes. I think they actually might be within their rights to can him, since part of any sports team's goal (albeit a minority part) is public relations. At some point they will have enough and tell him to take a hike, and it might be before he is incarcerated. But I actually admire them for taking the risk of helping the guy, even if he refuses that help.