Penn running back commits suicide outside Philadelphia

by From Staff Reports | 10/13/05 5:00am

PHILADELPHIA -- Two days after one of the best games of his career, Penn running back Kyle Ambrogi committed suicide, the university and police said.

The 21-year-old senior, who died at his suburban Havertown, Pa., home Monday, had been battling depression, the Daily News reported Wednesday, quoting the player's family.

"I knew my brother had been having some problems,'" Ambrogi's brother, Greg, a sophomore defensive back on the team, told the paper. "I thought he was getting better. I can't believe it happened. I can't cry yet."

Haverford Township police chief Gary Hoover told The Associated Press that Ambrogi's gunshot death wasn't being investigated as a criminal matter.

Quakers coach Al Bagnoli called the player "one of our shining lights."

"Kyle was a remarkable young man, a true scholar-athlete, an ambassador for Penn, a tremendous teammate and leader on and off the field, as well as a caring and outstanding brother," he said.

"His loss will be felt for a long time. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family during this time."

The brothers had a big day Saturday in Penn's 53-7 rout of Bucknell. Kyle, a backup, carried five times for 18 yards and two third-quarter touchdowns. Greg, a sophmore defensive back, scored a touchdown after recovering a fumbled snap in the second quarter.

"Afterward that's all everybody was talking about," Greg said. "How great it was that we, as brothers, got to score in the same game and did so on different sides of the ball. It was awesome."

Ambrogi's two touchdown performance was hardly a surprise to those who had followed his play in high school. In both his junior and senior years, Ambrogi earned All-Catholic, All-City, All-Area and All-State honors running the ball for St. Joseph's Prep in Philadelphia.

In his final season for St. Joseph's he was given the Catholic League MVP award and the Philadelphia City Player of the Year award while leading his team to a state title.

Donna Ambrogi, the brothers' mother, said she was proud of Kyle not only for his accomplishments but for how he mentored Greg.

"He was the perfect son," she said.

The Penn football team cancelled practice Tuesday to mourn Ambrogi's death but returned to the field yesterday to prepare for this week's contest against Columbia in New York.

Though the importance of a football game is greatly diminished in light of these recent events, the Penn coaching staff now finds itself with a thin running back corps that had already been dwindling due to injury.

Currently, the only active running backs on the roster are Sam Matthews, who sat out a game earlier in the season due to a bad shoulder, Joe Sandberg, who missed last week's game due to a shoulder injury of his own, and freshman Kelms Amoo-Achampong.

Saturday's game between Penn and Columbia at New York's Lawrence A. Wien Stadium is set to kick off at 1:30 p.m.