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Donte Stallworth ( 1980 - )  Category ( Athletes ) [suggest a correction]

Donte Stallworth's football career has been a bell curve, with 2009 definitely over the top and trending sharply downward.

The 6-0, 200-pound wide receiver enjoyed much happier days at Grant Union High School in Sacramento, the city in which he was born on Nov. 10, 1980. As a senior, Stallworth caught 56 passes for 1,289 yards and 23 touchdowns. As a defensive back, he made 77 tackles and picked off four opposing passes. His high school teammates on a squad that lost only two games during his career included three future NFL players, and he was named Player of the Year in California.

Rarely does such a talent escape the West Coast, but Stallworth said no to Southern Cal and UCLA and all the rest and took his pass-catching ability and 4.29 speed across the country to the University of Tennessee. There, he accumulated 1,747 receiving yards and earned the nickname "Hands." In 2002, he was chosen by New Orleans with the 19th pick of the first round.

At that point, Stallworth was stil ascending the bell curve. As a Saint, he became the first rookie in 20 years to catch a touchdown pass in his first four games, winding up the season with eight scoring receptions.

The next two seasons were less productive for Stallworth, who was bothered by injuries, but he rebounded with 70 receptions for 945 yards and seven touchdowns in 2005.

Despite that comeback, however, the Saints needed defensive help and saw Stallworth as a bargaining chip. Right before the 2006 season began, he was sent to the Philadelphia Eagles in exchange for linebacker Mark Simoneau and a future draft pick. In his first game with Philadelphia, he caught six passes for 141 yards and a touchdown.

The next year, Stallworth signed a $30 million, six-year deal with the New England Patriots. The contract was overlaid with incentives, however, and gave New England the option of releasing Stallworth for a small buyout if he failed to meet them. He did, and the Patriots cut him. The bell curve had lurched downward.

The Cleveland Browns did pick up Stallworth, but he played sparingly, catching only 17 passes for 170 yards and one touchdown.

The bell curve reached its nadir on the morning of March 19, 2009, when Stallworth's Bentley struck and killed 59-year-old Mario Reyes on a Miami Beach street. Stallworth's blood alcohol was .12 (over Florida's legal limit of .08), and he was charged with DUI and second-degree murder.

At trial, he was sentenced to 30 days in jail two years house arrest, eight years probation and had his driver's license suspended for life. He also reached a financial settlement with Reyes' family, which gave rise to complaints that he had bought his freedom.

Stallworth began serving his sentence on June 18, 2009. He has been indefinitely suspended from the National Football League by commissioner Roger Goodell.

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