SEATTLE – Before he became an All-American on the University of Washington football team, before he became embroiled in legal troubles, Reggie Rogers was a crowd favorite at UW basketball games in the 1980s.
“He threw down some ferocious dunks his freshman year,” UW teammate Paul Fortier said. “We didn’t have ESPN or any of the top-10 highlights back then. If we did, he would’ve been on there. … Fans loved him.”
Rogers died Thursday in Seattle’s Central District, at age 49, after a history of alcohol abuse.
A law enforcement official said police were called to 2761 E. Yesler Way at 12:47 p.m. for a man who was not breathing and apparently dead on the porch of a home. The official confirmed it was Rogers.
The King County Medical Examiner’s Office did not release details.
Rogers, a two-sport star for the Huskies, was a first-round pick in the 1987 NFL draft, but his career flamed out after he killed three teenagers in a DUI crash.
Since then, he has been arrested for a string of DUIs, assault and other criminal traffic violations. In December 2011, he was sentenced to a year in jail for his sixth conviction for drunken driving following an arrest in Tacoma.
Rogers, born Jan. 21, 1964, in Sacramento, Calif., arrived at UW as an intimidating 6-foot-6, 245-pound post player. He made an immediate impact as a freshman for Marv Harshman’s team in 1982-83. In football, Rogers was a three-year starter on the defensive line and a consensus All-American as a senior in 1986.
During what should have been the pinnacle of Rogers’ NFL career, he ran a stop sign in Pontiac, Mich., on Oct. 20, 1988, and collided with another car, killing three teenagers. His blood-alcohol level was more than two times the legal limit and he was found guilty of negligent homicide and spent a year in prison. The Lions dropped him. He was picked up by the Buffalo Bills but played in only two games.
Rogers was the younger brother of Don Rogers, an All-American safety at UCLA and NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year with the Cleveland Browns, who died in 1986 at age 23 of a heart attack caused by a cocaine overdose. Reggie was attending the UW at the time.
Rogers’ children include Regina Rogers, an All-Pac-12 basketball center for the Huskies in 2012, her senior year.