When former Madison and Baylor football standout Anthony Arline didn’t answer phone calls or respond to text messages from family members over the July 4th weekend, his mother drove to his North Side apartment twice to check on him.
“It was unusual but, I guess, not really that unusual,” Helen Arline said Tuesday night. “He had done this before. Anthony liked his privacy.”
Still, Helen Arline was concerned enough to go to her son’s apartment at about noon Sunday and again at 2 p.m. Monday. But she never could get him to come to the door.
“I had a key but I noticed the door was locked with the dead bolt,” she said. “I knew he was in there. I just thought he wanted some quiet and didn’t want to talk to anybody.”
Sadly, Arline had been dead since early Saturday, according to police.
His body was discovered Monday night after a former Madison classmate, who had gone to Arline’s apartment, called police.
“The firemen knocked the door down and they found Anthony,” Helen Arline said. “His classmate identified the body. There was also a policeman there who had gone to school with Anthony and recognized him.”
Robert Arline, Arline’s father, said Tuesday that police told him Monday night his son had died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Anthony Arline, 26, was in the Air Force and stationed at Lackland AFB.
A 2002 Madison High School graduate, Arline was a starting cornerback at Baylor for three seasons and earned honorable-mention honors on the All-Big 12 team as a junior and senior. He graduated from Baylor in 2007 with a degree in sociology.
Arline had a brief stint with the San Diego Chargers as an undrafted free agent in 2007, but he left training camp for personal reasons and never returned.
“His girlfriend was in a bad car accident and he had to leave camp,” said former Chargers secondary coach Bill Bradley, who was defensive coordinator at Baylor when Arline played for the Bears. “We told him to take as much time as he needed, but then he called us later and said he was retiring because his heart wasn’t in football anymore.”
Arline returned to Waco, where he remained until enlisting in the Air Force about two years ago.
“He let me know about it before he enlisted,” Helen Arline said. “I was surprised. He just said he wanted to serve his country.”
Arline’s death sent shock waves through the Madison High School community, where he was remembered fondly by former teammates, coaches and classmates.
“This is very tough,” Madison football coach Jim Streety said Tuesday. “You think of these players you coach as your own kids.”
Gary Green had a close relationship with Arline, serving as Madison’s secondary coach when Arline played for the Mavericks and coaching him in track.
“Anthony would be the last guy you’d think would do something like this,” Green said. “He had the world at his fingertips. This is just a shock to me. It’s tragic.”
Helen Arline said police investigators have told the family Arline died sometime between midnight and 12:30 a.m. Saturday, not long after he dropped off his girlfriend at her apartment following a quarrel.
“He had gone out with his girlfriend Friday night and they apparently had words,” Helen Arline said.
Helen Arline said her son gave no indication he was despondent when she talked with him for the last time Friday night.
“He was in good spirits,” she said. “That’s why this was such a shock. He called me on the phone and told me I was going to have to baby-sit his dog Friday night because he going to go out and have some fun.”
Arline, who divorced in January, had no children, his mother said.
While composed when we talked Tuesday night, Helen Arline said she has struggled with her emotions since getting the bad news Sunday night.
“I’m trying to keep it together because I know I have a lot of things to tend to in the next few days,” she said. “There are moments when the tears just come, and I know there will be many more tears in the days ahead.”
Arline is also survived by a sister, Tanesha, 21, who lives in Houston.
Funeral arrangements are still pending, Helen Arline said.
“We’ve gotten a lot of calls from people, and people have been leaving their thoughts on Facebook,” she said. “The support means a lot to us.”
Anthony Dante Arline was born Oct. 12, 1983, in San Jose, Calif. The Arline family moved to San Antonio in 1990, when Anthony was in the first grade.
“I would describe him as being very quiet and keeping to himself,” Helen Arline said. “But he was outgoing around his friends. He was a good young man.”
By his junior year at Madison, Arline was one of the most versatile and exciting high school players in San Antonio. Besides being a lockdown cornerback, he saw spot duty at wide receiver and was a threat to score any time he returned punts and kickoffs.
The Anthony Arline I remember interviewing during his days at Madison was always respectful and courteous. His gentle, shy demeanor belied the competitive ferocity that drove him on the football field, track and in the classroom.
Like everybody else who knew him, his death has left me asking the inevitable question: Why?
But regardless of the circumstances of Anthony’s death, I always will remember him as a bright light that left us much too soon.
To his family, I express my deepest condolences.