Danielle Ballard, Former LSU Women’s Basketball Star, Fatally Struck By Car

The Memphis native had been pepper sprayed shortly before wandering in the street.

Former Louisiana State University women’s basketball player Danielle Ballard died after being hit by a car on Thursday, as confirmed by Memphis Police and LSU.

A little before 1:30 a.m., officers responded to a pedestrian hit at Coleman Road and Raleigh-Lagrange Road in Memphis, according to MPD. Ballard, 29, was taken to a nearby hospital, where she was pronounced dead while the driver stayed on the scene.

A witness, Latieshica Douglas,  told local station WREG  that while she and a friend were leaving Blue Ice, a local bar and lounge, they saw Ballard walking in the middle of the street distressed. She said that Ballard told her she had just been pepper sprayed by security at the lounge. It was unclear why.

As Douglas and her friend yelled for Ballard to get out of the street, “I can’t see, I can’t see,” was Ballard’s response. By the time Douglas and her friend motioned to get out of the car to help, it was too late. “...the car was coming at like 70 mph and ran her over like she was a speed bump,” said Douglas.

In a statement, LSU coined Ballard as a “standout basketball player”, averaging 12.1 points, 6.8 rebounds and 2.8 assists between her 2012 to 2015 seasons. “We are deeply saddened by the passing of Danielle. She meant a great deal to our program and was such a big part of our women’s basketball family,” said the university. “It’s difficult to understand why this happened to someone who was so full of life and had so much promise.”

The former Tiger also played basketball at Central High School in Memphis and graduated in 2012, ranking 25th overall and the 7th position rank according to ESPN.

“She just was a baller, and she loved playing basketball, and I looked up to her even though I’m older than her because she was consistent in what she wanted to do with her life,” said Rachal Nolen, Ballard’s older cousin. She said her cousin went on to become an author and work with youth after she left her successful athletic career.

Nolen also reported that Ballard had a bipolar disorder diagnosis, using this tragedy as awareness to be kind to those struggling with mental illness. “Our world doesn’t give enough intimate thought to mental illness,” Nolen said. “She just wanted to get home.”

Memphis police officials say the incident is an ongoing investigation.

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