Even in dying, Tiffany Young was a role player who protected a friend. That is the way her father reconciles the auto accident Saturday night that killed the 21-year-old Purdue basketball player.

When a car struck the vehicle she was riding in, "it hit on Tiffany's side and pushed her against her boyfriend," Rev. Billy Ray Young, Tiffany's father, said, according to the Chicago Tribune. "She cushioned him.

"That's the way she always was in life, looking out for others. It was just something that God let happen. We thank God that He let us have her for 21 years."

Young's boyfriend, Neil Sinclair of Gary, Ind., was driving the car. He's in the intensive-care unit at Methodist Hospital in Gary, where a spokesman said the family did not want a condition report to be given.

The driver of the other car, Arnold Eaton, 33, of Great Lakes, Ill., was charged with driving while intoxicated resulting in death, and is being held on $10,000 bond by the Lake County Sheriff's Department. Two passengers in his car are hospitalized with broken bones.

Rev. Young and his wife, Gloria, their two daughters and his two brothers and a sister drove the 20-hour round trip to Gary, where Tiffany was killed Saturday, and back to Hillsboro, Ala., where she will be buried Thursday.

When the grieving travelers arrived home Sunday night, their house and yard were filled with dozens of friends.

News of the accident was just as devastating on the Purdue campus in West Lafayette, Ind. Young, a physical therapy major, would have been a returning senior from last year's national championship team.

"She was such a good person with nothing but love in her heart for everybody, and she cannot be replaced," said Stephanie McCarty, a star on Purdue's championship team who now plays for the Charlotte Sting of the WNBA.

Rev. Young last spoke to his daughter Thursday night, when she phoned home just to check in and say hello.

"But we had this vibe between us," he said. "When I felt something was wrong there, I'd get on the phone and call, and vice-versa she would call here.

"Thursday night, she said she had just called to say, 'Daddy, I love you.' "

After they spoke, Young indulged in a sudden compulsion: He pulled out videotapes he had taken of Tiffany as a child.

"I hadn't watched them in a long time," he recalled. "I just felt some need to see her."

As he watched scenes from her childhood in Alabama, her adult life was ending in Indiana.


Special Delivery

Four days after attending the "Birth Night" promotion at a Lowell (Mass.) Spinners baseball game, a woman has delivered a baby boy and claimed a free year's supply of diapers.

Paul John Armstrong was born to Paul and Lisa Armstrong at 4:01 p.m. The baby's weight and length were not immediately available.

The Class A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox invited expectant mothers and their partners to Thursday night's game and offered prizes to the family that expanded first. It was not necessary for the baby to be born during the game to win.


Walker Cup Team

Tom McKnight and Matt Kuchar are among six amateur golfers named to the U.S. team that will compete for the Walker Cup. McKnight and Kuchar will join Jonathan Byrd, Edward Loar, Tim Jackson and Danny Yates. Five more players will be added to the team after the 1999 U.S. Amateur championship on Aug. 22.

Auto Racing

Driven to Excess

Eddie Cheever, angry and frustrated, set out to simply speak to rookie Scott Harrington. He wound up manhandling him. A day after the confrontation at Dover Downs International Speedway, Cheever was filled with regret.

"My actions were inexcusable," he said yesterday.

The 1998 Indianapolis 500 champion walked down pit road after the Indy Racing League's MBNA Mid-Atlantic 200 to where Harrington was seated. A profane argument ensued, and Cheever admits he grabbed Harrington by his racing uniform and lifted him.

Harrington did not accuse Cheever of going for his throat, but said his hands wound up there.

"I've still got scratches on my neck," Harrington, the IRL's rookie points leader, said by phone.

Driver Robby Unser joined Cheever as he walked toward Harrington. Witnesses said others in the area stepped in to end the discord and quoted Unser as telling Harrington: "It isn't over yet. This is just the beginning." . . .

Christian Fittipaldi, fourth in the CART season point standings, was knocked unconscious during a test session at Gateway International Raceway in Madison, Ill., and was to be hospitalized overnight for tests and observation.

According to CART rules, a driver who is knocked unconscious cannot compete for a minimum of seven days, keeping him out of Sunday's Tenneco Automotive Grand Prix of Detroit.


GW Loses Two

Guards Andry Sola and Roey Eyal will not return to the George Washington men's basketball team this fall. Eyal, who had one year of eligibility remaining, has returned to Israel to play professional basketball. Sola, who averaged 4.4 points and was second on the team with 32 three-point baskets last season, has transferred to Drake. . . . Northwestern High School senior Reginald Kemp, a two-way lineman, has committed to play football for Maryland, Northwestern Coach Ed Shields said. Kemp, a 6-foot-4, 320-pound tackle, has started the past two seasons for the Wildcats.


Keeper Keller Content

U.S. goalkeeper Kasey Keller finalized the details of a two-year contract with Rayo Vallecano of Spain's first division and is expected to join the team this week. "I am very excited about playing in Spain after eight years in England," Keller was quoted as saying by the U.S. Soccer Federation. . . .

The Tampa Bay Mutiny sent starting defender Sam George and reserve midfielder Paul Dougherty to the Chicago Fire for defender Ritchie Kotshcau (George Mason University) and midfielder Manny Lagos. The Mutiny also announced the signing of Ghana national team captain Joe Addo (George Mason), a defender who has played professionally in Germany, the Netherlands, Portugal and Greece. Tampa Bay faces D.C. United Sunday at RFK Stadium.


Sampras No. 1 Again

Pete Sampras regained the top ranking in tennis today, breaking Ivan Lendl's record of 270 weeks at No. 1. Sampras replaced Australian Patrick Rafter for his 271st week at No. 1. Rafter held the top spot for only a week. Sampras returned to No. 1 by advancing to the final of the Mercedes-Benz Cup. He defeated Andre Agassi, 7-6 (7-3), 7-6 (7-1), on Sunday to win the title.