The most recent bizarre disappearance involves former Washington State University player Tony Harris. In 1994, Harris, a guard, led a Cinderella Cougars team to the NCAA tournament. The team lost in the East Regional to Boston College, 67-64. Despite this, Harris never played in the NBA. After college, he played in Asia and South America. He starred in Brazil from 2000-05, earning Player of the Year honors and winning a championship for Uberlandia before retiring. But this year he decided to return to Brazil to get a "financial cushion" before the birth of his first child with his wife Lori.
Lori said her husband left Seattle for Brasilia in central Brazil on Oct. 31. She last heard from him early Nov. 4, when he spoke to her, fear in his voice, from a Brazilian taxi driver's cell phone. Two days earlier, he called and said "he didn't feel safe and that if he didn't come home now, he wasn't going to make it home," she said.
Harris said her husband had expressed concerns about people involved with the team, and was hearing upsetting rumors about himself. The basketball team's organization, she said, apparently held his passport, and her husband was trying to get to another city in Brazil where a friend could help.
And that's it. No one knows what's happened to Harris and so far no one is exactly going out of their way to help Harris' family find him.
But if you think think that's a strange tale, it's not even the strangest tale to come out of Seattle, which is where Harris hails from. By far the weirdest disappearance, maybe in sports history, is that of former Sonics player John Brisker. Brisker was a tough, bruising, and menacing player who spent time in the ABA before joining the Sonics in the early 70s. However, only a couple of years after he was cut during the 75-76 season, he pretty much inexplicably traveled to Uganda during the height of Idi Amin's reign of terror. Brisker told some of his family members he had plans to get into the import-export business. 1978 was the last time his family heard from him, which was one phone call from Kampala. After that he was never heard from again.
The legends about Brisker's disappearance are just as strange as his decision to go to Uganda.
Brisker's family said he had been invited to Uganda as a guest of Amin, a wild basketball enthusiast. One line of thinking is that Brisker was executed in Uganda. After Amin's government was overthrown in 1979, the theory goes, Brisker was shot by a firing squad of anti-Amin revolutionaries.
Another somewhat credible account is that Brisker didn't just want to go to Uganda as a guest, he actually wanted to fight for Amin. One night around 1978, former Pittsburgh Condors public relations director Fred Cranwell played back a message left on his home phone. It was a collect call from Brisker, who cryptically said he was going to Africa to fight in a war.
There's even a thought that Brisker simply became an anonymous individual in Uganda or somewhere else in Africa to begin a new life.
But perhaps the weirdest theory of all is that Brisker got on Amin's bad side, was killed, and eaten by the dictator.
Regardless of what happened, Brisker was declared legally dead in 1985 by the King County, Washington medical examiner.
The last bizarre disappearance should be somewhat familiar to those of you who grew up watching basketball in the 90s. In 2002, Bison Dele - who used to be known as Brian Williams - disappeared at sea in Tahiti along with his girlfriend and the ship's captain. Initially, no boat was recovered and the only person who made it back to land was Dele's brother, Miles Dabord (born Kevin Williams). However, after an extensive investigation that even involved the FBI, the boat was found 2 months later off the coast of Tahiti with its name plate removed and some possible bullet holes patched up. Since Dele's disappearance Dabord had also forged his brother's signature in order to buy $152,000 worth of gold under his brother's name. He had also used Dele's passport as identification. The FBI concluded that Dele, his girlfriend and the skipper were probably killed, and then thrown overboard, by Dabord.
Dabord, the only major source of information regarding the case, intentionally overdosed on insulin shortly thereafter and slipped into a coma. He died within a few weeks, effectively shutting the book on the case forever.