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Former Buccaneer Mills Hunts for his Son’s Killers


By Justin George, St. Petersburg Times Staff Writer

In his black SUV, he rolled through the darkness before dawn. He drove past shuttered buildings and fried fish shacks, toward the housing projects of West Tampa and Robles Park, to a row of subsidized rental duplexes shaded by oak trees and overpasses. He had done this scores of times, scanning the corners for drug dealers and dropouts, for anyone who might know something about the men who murdered his son.

On this morning, he looked out his window and saw only empty streets. Just a few old people, stirring early. He felt like a circling shark who had driven everyone inside. He killed the stereo, parked his Suburban in plain sight, rolled down his tinted window, lit a cigar. Then he just sat there. It was a dare. Come out and show yourself. Two years had gone by since CJ died. But time wasn’t healing Vidal Mills.

Vidal Mills is a football player. He is comfortable in a world of controlled chaos, with winners and losers and rules and penalties. Where if someone gets in your way, you smash them in the mouth.

He played safety. The last line of defense.

Off the field, his role was less clear. A father couldn’t just play safety. He had to be a guide and an example, and Vidal was neither.

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