Stone, who paid for all of Suggs’s travel and training expenses, moved Suggs to rural Stafford for a time to get him away from the crack flooding Washington’s urban neighborhoods. Suggs found it there. As his addiction got worse, he would jog as many as six or seven miles a night from one drug strip to the next. In Alexandria, he ran from the Hole to the Dip to the Berg. Sometimes, Suggs would even fight strung out. “I just couldn’t understand it,” he says. “No matter what happened on the street, I was getting better and better in boxing.”
On a Saturday in late July 1987, four days after giving Patrick Byrd such a beating at the Olympic Festival, Suggs and his coaches were on a plane to the Olympic Training Center in Colorado. All Suggs had to do was beat Byrd one more time on July 31 and he would be on his way to the Pan American Games in Indianapolis in August, a crucial steppingstone to the Olympics.
The next morning, Suggs’s cousin, who was stationed at nearby Fort Carson Army base, came to the training center to tell Suggs that his 7-month-old daughter, Ashley, had died in the night of SIDS.
Suggs went back to Alexandria for the funeral. “I was doing everything I could do to hold it together to make the ’88 Olympics,” Suggs says. “But when my daughter died, it was like I didn’t care no more. I wanted to get God back. I wanted to mess up my life.”
He never returned to Colorado, never fought Byrd again and never made it to the Pan Am Games. On Aug. 1, less than two weeks after reaching what would be the apex of his boxing career, Suggs was arrested on his first drug charge. Byrd went to the Pan Am Games in his place. There, the man Suggs had easily beaten took such a pounding by a Cuban fighter that one sportswriter likened it to a 50-0 blowout in football. One week later, on Aug. 26, Suggs was arrested again and given two years’ probation.
But he was so deeply in what he called “the world,” he had ceased caring. “It was like when you see a drowning person and you can’t help them. You simply stand there, helpless, and watch,” Suggs’s uncle Silas Dinkins says.