Kindle falls down stairs, in hospital

OWINGS MILLS – Baltimore Ravens rookie outside linebacker Sergio Kindle remains hospitalized in stable condition with a fairly serious head injury suffered when he fell down two flights of stairs Thursday night at a house he was visiting in Texas.

The second-round draft pick had swelling inside his skull when he was admitted to the hospital, but has improved rapidly since the fall. He's expected to make a full recovery whe he should be able to play football again this season. The former University of Texas star remains under observation at University Medical Center Brackenridge in Austin and will not report for the start of training camp today at McDaniel College.

"Sergio always thought he had bad luck all his life," Kindle's father, Johnny Walker, told the Carroll County Times. "I'm just glad he's going to be fine. It's a scary thing."

The Ravens' doctors and trainers are in communication with the doctors that are treating Kindle.

"Members of our medical staff, including Bill Tessendorf and Dr. Andy Tucker, have spoken with doctors in Texas," Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome said. "We understand Sergio is stable at this time and that he is being tested and observed."

Drafted 43rd overall, Kindle remains unsigned. It's believed that his agent won't be finalizing a deal for Kindle for at least a few days.

That was the case with contract talks even prior to the injury. The Ravens aren't expected to decrease Kindle's slotted contract offer because of this development, but it could slow down talks until a recovery time is determined.

Kindle was not slated to immediately compete for a starting job, but the former All-Big 12 selection was expected to contribute as a situational pass rusher working behind starting outside linebacker Jarret Johnson.

This isn't Kindle's first off-field issue. The 6-foot-3, 250-pounder was arrested for driving under the influence three years ago. Last year, Kindle crashed into an apartment building because he said he was texting while driving. The 22-year-old left the scene of the accident without contacting police and went home with a mild concussion.

"Sergio has matured a lot over the past few years," Walker said. "He never thought anything bad would happen to him, but he's learned that you can't get away with doing those things. "If he listens and learns, he can accomplish a lot. With Ray Lewis there in Baltimore, he's got the best teacher anyone can have. Sergio just needs to listen and keep working hard."

It hasn't been an easy path to the NFL for Kindle after growing up in a rough neighborhood in inner-city Dallas.

His mother abandoned Sergio Kindle and his brother, Calvin Walker, because of drug problems. A highway and bridge construction inspector, Walker raised his sons as a single-parent.

"She was in and out of our lives," Walker said. "We wouldn't see her for four or five years. We haven't had contact with her recently. Nobody has seen her, but she calls. It's been rough on Sergio, rough on the whole family."

Walker had to a firm disciplinarian in South Oak Cliff, a crime-ridden community where drugs and murders are a constant danger.

"It's pretty bad," Walker said. "Sergio has lost a lot of friends."

Kindle is the father of a four-year-old son named Sergio Jr.

"My dad was tough on us, but he wanted us to succeed," Kindle said this spring. "It's a bad area where we're from. You have to be careful to make it out of there. There are things going on around you that you have to avoid."

Growing up in a small house crowded with relatives, Kindle spent many nights sleeping on the floor.

He says he didn't mind as long as he had a blanket and some carpet to keep him warm. The house was robbed several times by football players at South Oak Cliff High School, so Walker sent Kindle across town to Woodrow Wilson High School.

"With that happening, I didn't want him around anything like that," Walker said. "I just wanted him to be safe and be able to concentrate on school and football."

Kindle would get up at 6 a.m. to commute to the other side of Dallas.

Kindle emerged as one of the top recruits in the nation as a running back and linebacker, rushing for 5,632 yards and 86 touchdowns and recording 411 tackles and 55 tackles for losses. He was ranked as the top linebacker from the Dallas area since Jesse Armstead and was named to the Parade Magazine and USA Today All-American teams and was also selected to play in the prestigious U.S. Army All-American Bowl.

"He loves football," Walker said. "We used to sit around and play the John Madden game every day. He just grew up around football all the time."

Kindle was also the starting center on the basketball team and ran the 400 meters and competed in the long jump.

Kindle was embarrassed when he got arrested in July of 2007, an incident that caused him to be suspended for the first three games of his sophomore season.

"You never want to go to jail," he said. After he was drafted, Kindle said he learned a hard lesson from the episode.

"I just made a poor decision of getting in the car after having some drinks, and that was my fault," Kindle said. "I feel like everything happens for a reason. The Lord puts me through those situations for me to learn and to make me the man I am today. It made me tougher, it made me stronger and made me smarter in decision making. I am a better man for it today."

As a junior at Texas, Kindle thrived with 10 sacks.

AnAll-American selection, he was expected to go in the first round. However, his draft stock took a hit due to concerns about his surgically-repaired knee and his history of off-field issues.

"He knows right from wrong," said Bobby Estes, Kindle's high school coach. "He's not perfect, but nobody is. He's a good young man. I hope he's making good decisions."

During an offseason minicamp, Kindle said he has learned hard lessons from his struggles.

"Everything I've been through has been worth it," he said. "I couldn't be in a better situation than to be here with the Ravens."

NOTE: Like Kindle, second-round nose guard Terrence Cody remains unsigned. However, he's expected to finalize a four-year, $3.585 million contract today and is traveling to camp today.


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