CLEMSON, SC - Clemson running back Javis Austin could put up a good enough front that no one suspected he was thinking about taking his own life Wednesday.
"Obviously, I had no idea," said cousin and close friend Larry Greenlee.
Then again, Austin, 21, had plenty of practice at putting on a good face in the midst of personal turmoil.
Greenlee, an assistant strength coach at Clemson, said Thursday that he was caught completely off guard by Wednesday's events.
Austin skipped practice and used a gun that he had bought in to attempt to take his own life in a house in Pendleton. He was alone when he shot himself and called 911 afterwards.
Austin answered the door for police that responded to the call. He stepped out on the porch of the house and gave a statement to police before being taken to the Anderson Area Medical Center.
Doctors removed his right eye Wednesday night and were attempting to save the sight in his other eye. He was listed in critical but stable condition as of late Thursday.
Police on Thursday afternoon would not reveal what Austin said in his statement. It could reveal the reason why he attempted to take his own life, or that could remain locked inside Austin like the other tragedies that have entered his life.
Austin's 23-year-old brother Louis died of a heart attack while playing basketball in 1994.
Austin's cousin Terry Smith, a wide receiver for Clemson in the early 90's died in 1997 during a standoff with police in Atlanta. Smith, who was 26 at the time, was shot to death inside his estranged wife's home after he forced his way in and then stabbed his wife after police ordered him to drop the knife he was carrying.
Both tragedies occurred before Austin stepped foot on the Clemson campus. He came from nearby Daniel High School, where he led the state in rushing in 1996 with 2,389 yards and 32 touchdowns.
At Clemson he started three games during his freshman year, but saw limited playing time during his sophomore year. This season he never could find a niche in Tommy Bowden's offensive system. He started Clemson's first two games, but lost the starting job to best friend Travis Zachery and did not play for four straight games midway through the season.
He had rushed for 120 yards on 36 carries in five games.
"He was very coachable," said Bowden. "He was the consummate team player."
There was a team meeting Thursday afternoon. Quarterback Brandon Streeter said the payers resolved to win the team's game Saturday against South Carolina for Austin.
"The coaches just let us know what his situation was," said Streeter. "They gave us the situation and we talked about just what an important guy he is to this team. We want to win this one for him."