One is a former high school cornerback who also loves baseball. The other is a football fan who also played competitive golf.
The two University of Oklahoma students at the center of a racist fraternity video have more than sports in common. They’re both under fire since the nine-second clip showed them making racial slurs against blacks.
In it, students at the now-disbanded Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity clap, pump their fists and laugh as they hurl racial slurs and make a reference to lynching.
School officials have expelled Parker Rice and Levi Pettit because of their alleged “leadership role” in the racist chant.
Here’s what we know about the two students:
Rice, 19, was raised in Dallas, where he recently graduated from Jesuit College Preparatory School. In high school, he was an avid sportsman, and he played cornerback on the football team, in addition to baseball, The Dallas Morning News reported.
His father, Bob Rice, is a real estate agent in Dallas, where he volunteers for various organizations, including a baseball league and the local YMCA, according to the newspaper.
Earlier this year, a sibling of the younger Rice described their close relationship in an interview with their high school newspaper. In the article, the brother says they enjoy playing video games and watching movies together.
Rice has apologized for the video, calling his actions wrong and reckless.
“I made a horrible mistake by joining into the singing and encouraging others to do the same,” he said in a statement Tuesday.
His family has fled their home, where protesters gathered Wednesday. They’ve also wiped out their social media accounts.
As the university tries to heal after days of controversy, some are rallying to Rice’s defense.
Matthew Lopez, a friend and fellow student at the university, said the video is not a reflection of who he is.
“That video does not represent his core personality,” Lopez said. “Unfortunately though, as things are, that might define him for a while. But it does not define him personally, I feel.”
Lopez described him as a “charismatic, good person, with a good soul and a good spirit” who experienced a lapse in judgment.
“His behavior is a result of his influence of the fraternity system and the traditions that have been embedded since pre-civil war times, when the fraternity was made, which obviously weren’t the most tolerant times,” Lopez said.
The second student expelled, Pettit does not have much of a digital footprint. What appears to be his now deleted Twitter page mainly focuses on his musings about college football.
Pettit played golf at his alma mater, Highland Park High School, The Dallas Morning News reported.
In a statement, his parents said their son made a horrible mistake and apologized to African-Americans, students and university faculty.
“He is a good boy, but what we saw in those videos is disgusting,” Brody and Susan Pettit said.
“While it may be difficult for those who only know Levi from the video to understand, we know his heart, and he is not a racist.”
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