Teammates and family members of Christopher Lane, the Australian baseball player who was shot dead while jogging in Duncan, Okla., are struggling to understand the loss of a rising star athlete and beloved son.
“He’s a guy that we all looked up to and we all wanted to be like him, we all kind of idolized him a bit,” said James Coster, one of Lane's former teammates at Essendon Baseball Club in a suburb of Melbourne.
Lane's father, Peter Lane, said his son began playing baseball when he was six or seven years old and loved it.
Tony Cornish, president of the Essendon Baseball Club, remembers Lane as a passionate ballplayer with big ambitions.
“Chris Lane was just one of those fantastic kids growing up – loved baseball," Cornish said. "He was very passionate about the club and he had a good head on his shoulders, who really wanted to go as far as he could with his abilities and also get an education out of sport as well.”
Lane played in Essendon for about a decade, then moved to the United States, where he was a catcher for Oklahoma’s East Central University.
"He achieved a lot for a 22-year-old,” his father said.
Lane's American girlfriend said he was a kind and charismatic young man who could light up a room and who loved to travel.
"He had done more things in his life than I ever thought I could even imagine doing. He's traveled so many places, he's seen so many things," Sarah Harper said. "He's already so worldly at 22 years old but yet he still had dreams to go and see everything and be everywhere and know everything."
Harper traveled to Melbourne to be with Lane's family as they prepare for his Aug. 28 funeral.
Lane's former team will play a game Sunday in his honor, Cornish said, adding that the club had already received $20,000 in donations, including $10,000 from an American woman.
Thousands of people are expected to attend the tribute game against Melbourne University.
James Edwards, Jr., 15, and Chancey Luna, 16, were charged with the murder in the first degree in connection with Lane's shooting.
The third juvenile, Michael Jones, 17, was charged with using a vehicle to facilitate the discharge of a firearm and accessory after the fact to murder, according to a press release by the district attorney’s office. All were charged as adults.
"They were individuals that liked attention," Duncan Police Chief Dan Ford said. "I'd say they were fake gangsters."
Authorities said one of the teens said they targeted Lane because they were bored and had nothing to do.
Lane's father described his son's death as pointless.
“He’s left his mark as we know. There’s not going to be any good come out of this because it was just so senseless," Peter Lane said.
"There wasn't anything he did or could have done. He was an athlete going for a jog like he would do, you know, five or six times a week in terms of his training schedule. It’s happened, it’s wrong. We just try and deal with it the best we can,” he added.
If convicted of first-degree murder, Edwards and Luna could face life in prison. Jones faces a lesser sentence of 45 years.
But that is little comfort for Lane's father.
"Somebody we all love so much is not going to come home," Peter Lane said.
First published August 24 2013, 1:46 PM