Rico Harris was one of the most promising college basketball players in the late 90s. The son of a former Idaho State star, Harris exhibited uncommon talent while playing for Los Angeles City College. Sportswriters and fans alike compared Harris’s playing style to Lamar Odom’s, and many expected Harris to become an NBA superstar after college.
These hopes never materialized, though. The Los Angeles native struggled with alcoholism during his college years, and various personal difficulties undermined his professional aspirations. After a troubled professional career, Harris eventually disappeared in 2014. His disappearance remains unsolved to this day, but theories about what may have happened to the former basketball player continue to spread online.
After college, Harris bounced around a few International Basketball League teams. The semi-professional play didn’t suit him, however, and he sought out something more glamorous. He seemed to have found his niche in 2000 when he joined the Harlem Globetrotters, but his career with the exhibition team got cut short due to an assault a month later.
While out with a girlfriend in South LA, Harris allegedly got into a dispute with some acquaintances. He was assaulted with a baseball bat during the confrontation, causing him to develop extreme headaches and a loss of balance. The injury prevented him from playing with the Globetrotters and ended his basketball career.
After the assault, Harris slipped into severe alcoholism. Throughout the early 2000s, authorities arrested him over a hundred times. Most of his charges were related to public intoxication. Finally, in October of 2007, Harris checked himself into a rehab center in downtown Los Angeles. After his rehabilitation, he met Jennifer Song, a mutual acquaintance who lived in Seattle.
The two kept up a long-distance relationship for seven years, until, in 2014, Harris relocated to Seattle to move in with Song.
On October 9, 2014, Harris traveled back to Los Angeles a final time to get some closure with his family before permanently settling into his new life in Seattle. He spoke to his brothers and mother, but reportedly the conversation with his mother was unpleasant. Shortly after midnight on October 10, Harris left his mother’s home to return to Song in Seattle.
At 10:45 AM that morning, he called Song while he was north of Sacramento. He told her that he planned to head up into the mountains to rest and then turned his phone off at 11:15. No one has seen or heard from Harris since.
Investigators found Harris’s phone near the location from which he placed his last phone call. Within, they found photos he had taken in the nearby wilderness, in which he seems to have been in good spirits. He’s striking playful poses in the images. They also found videos in which Harris sings along with songs in his car on the morning of October 10, indicating his good mood.
As such, some people speculate that Harris may have accidentally slipped over a guard railing into the nearby creek. Others suggest he may have fled his former life and started a new one elsewhere. No matter what happened, Harris’s disappearance remains unsolved, and questions still haunt his family to this day.