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Rudy Eugene, the ‘Miami Zombie,’ remembered by former high school football coach

Cameron Smith
Prep Rally

The man who has been called the "Miami Zombie" was once just another high school football player, according to his former coach at North Miami Beach (Fla.) Senior High.

As reported by the Miami Herald, North Miami Beach football coach Jeff Bertani said he was horrified when he first saw photos of Rudy Eugene, the man who was shot dead by Miami police while eating the face of a homeless man, because it immediately struck him that he was a former player.

"He didn't play for me very long -- one season -- but I'm pretty good with faces," Bertani told the Herald. "No doubt he played for us. It's still pretty shocking to know that guy played for us."

According to Bertani, Eugene spent the 1998 season -- his junior year at North Miami Beach -- on the football team. The following year Eugene transferred to North Miami (Fla.) High, where he graduated in the Class of 2000. There is no word on whether he competed for the North Miami squad during his senior year.

Bertani said he didn't recall having any notable troubles with Eugene — whom he described as a normal kid who played defensive end for North Miami Beach -- while he was at the school, but regretted that no one did more for him when he was younger.

In the meantime, a group of former North Miami Beach players who knew Eugene before or after graduating reached out to the coach about his disturbing end.

"Those guys had heard he had some problems, got involved with drugs and things like that, but none of them saw this coming," Bertani said. "We've had some kids get in scrapes with the law before. I had one convicted of murder.

"But nothing like this. This was shocking."

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