SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — A former Arizona basketball star is now, in his words, an “Islamist jihadist.”
Chris Craig, who was a star on the court at Scottsdale’s Horizon High School, then went on to be one of the youngest college basketball coaches ever, is now in jail after allegedly threatening to blow up a Utah school.
One of his former college coaches is trying to make sense of what happened, according to KPHO.
Dressed in a tunic, a Middle Eastern headdress and a face mask, Craig paced outside of a Utah elementary school while threatening to blow it up, authorities said.
Craig was arrested after the tense standoff and booked into jail on $25,000 bail.
“It’s disappointing. It’s painful. You wonder why,” said Craig’s former coach, Kelly Green, who is now the head coach at Southeastern Oklahoma State University.
After news had broken of Craig’s arrest, we called Green, who knew Craig well. Green coached Craig while at Arizona Western College in Yuma, Ariz., nearly two decades ago.
“It’s sad. I mean, I love the kid, and I say kid because I knew him. He’s been in my house. He babysat my children. I mean, I had a very personal relationship with him,” said Green.
For as long as many can remember, Craig was a die-hard athlete on and off the court.
“He gets zoned in on something, and he’s all in,” said Green.
While at Arizona Western, Craig became very involved in religion. Green said he remembers their last phone call well about three weeks ago.
“He was quoting Bible verses to me about what he thought might be our world heading to the end of times,” Green said.
Around that same time, Craig resigned his coaching position at Midland College in Texas and began describing himself as an “Islamic jihadist,” quite a contrast from his college days when the caption under his team photo read “has tremendous work ethic and leadership skills.”
“This is not the Chris Craig that I knew and know,” Green said.
A couple of years ago in a Sports Illustrated article, titled “A Coach Unbalanced,” they raised the issue of mental illness in telling his story.
Green said whether it’s that or something else Craig is suffering from, he just hopes he gets the help he needs.
“It’s sad that it’s happening with him, but now when it starts involving the health and welfare and well-being of other people, then it’s really, really concerning,” Green said.AlertMe