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Former FAMU Swimmer Dies in Afghanistan

June 26, 2012

- The Florida A&M University (FAMU) family mourns the loss of former middle/long distance swimmer Steven Stevens II. Stevens, who was a swimmer for two years at FAMU before joining the Marines, was killed in battle in Afghanistan from shrapnel from a rocket-propelled grenade. Private First Class (Pfc.) Stevens is survived by his wife, Monique, and their three-month-old son, Kairo, who was born just eight days after his deployment. Stevens never had the opportunity to see his son in person.

Derek Horne, FAMU director of Athletics, expressed the sorrow of the Rattler community in learning of the news.

“We are saddened to hear of the untimely sacrifice made by former Rattler student-athlete Pfc. Steven Stevens II,” said Horne.  “FAMU Athletics and the university as a whole became aware of his demise today. Because of Stevens' competitive spirit and athleticism, we know that he was the perfect fit for our U.S. Marines and we are very proud of him. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his wife Monique, son Kairo and his entire family. The swimming records he earned while he was here may one day be broken, but the respect and admiration earned for making the ultimate sacrifice for his country will never subside. The Rattler community salutes this fallen Rattler.”

Stevens came to FAMU on a swimming scholarship under Ian Lee. Lee trained Stevens and placed him as a middle distance swimmer, as well as designated him as the lead-off leg on some of the relay races.

His talent shined brightly in the Northeast Swimming Conference championship of 2007. Overall, the Rattlers took third place in the meet. In the 200-yard medley, he swam a 29.44 split to lead off the Rattlers. In the 400-yard medley, Stevens swam a lead leg of 1:00.40 to take second place.

Individually, Stevens took fifth in the 400-yard IM, with a time of 5:22.99. He also took fifth in the 200-yard backstroke and seventh in the 500-yard freestyle.

He holds three FAMU swimming records. He ranked fourth in time for the 400-yard Individual Medley (4:56.18 - 2007), fourth as a member of the 400-yard medley (Stevens, Lowe, El-Amin Barnett - 3:44.00 - 2007) and sixth in the 200-yard backstroke (2:12.81 - 2007)

Douglass Carrington was the assistant swimming coach during Stevens' tenure at FAMU, before becoming the head coach in 2008. "It was bad to hear the news. Steven was so young. He was a pretty bright kid, and one of our talented athletes. He was fun to be around and this is one of those things that is tough to talk about. We were tough on him to make the team better. When he first came he was unsure of his path, but he soon settled in and began to perform in the pool. The whole military life seemed uncharacteristic, because he seemed gentler than a soldier," Carrington said.

Stevens was a good swimmer, but always had a heart for art. His desire to travel the world prompted him to leave FAMU after two years. He would enlist in the U.S. Marines.

Stevens enlisted in the Marine Corps on June 1, 2009. He was awarded the Purple Heart Medal, Combat Action Ribbon, National Defense Service Medal the Afghanistan Campaign Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and the NATO Medal-ISAF Afghanistan. This was Stevens' first tour in Afghanistan.

Stevens was assigned to the 1st Combat Engineer Battalion, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, Calif. He died while conducting combat operations in the Helmand province in Afghanistan.

Funeral services for Pfc. Steven Stevens II are scheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday, June 30 at Hope United Methodist Church, 26275 Northwestern Hwy., in Southfield, Mich. Viewings are scheduled for 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., Friday, June 29 at 9 a.m. and Saturday at the church with family hour at 10 a.m.

The James H. Cole Home for Funerals in Detroit is handling the arrangements.

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