Prep baseball superstar, possible first-round MLB pick, dies of mysterious apparent suicide

One of the nation's top baseball prospects, a bright student headed to Vanderbilt, was found dead along the side of a Tennessee road on Tuesday after an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, sending shockwaves throughout the Volunteer State baseball community.

Riverside pitcher Stephen Gant — Aaron Hardin/Jackson Sun
Riverside pitcher Stephen Gant — Aaron Hardin/Jackson Sun

As reported by the Jackson Sun, the Nashville City Paper and a variety of other Nashville-area news sources, Parsons (Tenn.) Riverside High ace Stephen Gant was found dead in Perry County shortly after the local sheriff's office had been called about a man walking up and down the road with a gun threatening to commit suicide.

"We found the body of Stephen Gant about 30 feet from the roadway with a gunshot wound," Perry County Sheriff's Office Chief Deputy Nick Weems told the Sun. "We do believe at this time that it was self-inflicted; however, we will continue to investigate to look at other possibilities to make sure it was suicide."

To call Gant's death a stunning turn of events is a vast understatement. The senior was a Vanderbilt signee with what many anticipated would be a bright future at one of the nation's most impressive college baseball programs. In all three of his prep seasons he had been named the Sun's Baseball Player of the Year, a remarkable achievement in a tough Tennessee baseball region.

In fact, Gant's arm was so strong that some had even penciled the senior in as a likely first round draft pick in the forthcoming MLB draft.

On Tuesday, the communities that knew him and were looking forward to his arrival were still struggling to come to grips with the teenager's tragic death, as Vanderbilt baseball coach Tim Corbin made clear in a statement released to the press.

"This stops you right in your tracks," Corbin said in the release. "These are life occurrences that can't be explained ... there are no 'do-overs.'

"We are all deeply saddened for Gloria, Tony, his brothers and sister as well as the many friends that Stephen had. All we can do is be supportive for the family and be there for them."

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