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NHL player Jimmy Hayes' death highlights spike in fentanyl-related drug overdose deaths


(NEW YORK) -- Family members of a former NHL player who had cocaine and fentanyl in his system when he died are now speaking out to warn people about the risks of fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid.

Jimmy Hayes, a 31-year-old father of two who played seven seasons in the NHL, was found dead at his home near Boston on Aug. 23.

His death was ruled accidental.

"I hope getting Jimmy's story out there can save someone's life," Hayes' father, Kevin, told the Boston Globe. "If this can save someone from the pain, great. It's just so sad. I pride myself on being pretty mentally strong. I'm a street guy. But there's just no formula for this. You have a beautiful, all-American boy who made a terrible mistake and it cost him his life.''

Hayes' wife, Kristen, told the Boston Globe she was "completely shocked" that her husband's death was drug-related, telling the newspaper, "I was so certain that it had nothing to do with drugs. I really thought it was a heart attack or anything that wasn't that [drugs]."

Hayes was a Boston native who played over 300 games in the NHL for four different teams. His dad Kevin told the Boston Globe that Hayes came to him over a year ago and told him he was "hooked" on pain pills, and later sought treatment.

"So he gets help and everything was on the path to recovery, I thought," said Kevin. "But this [expletive] is so powerful.''

Hayes is the latest well-known celebrity to die with fentanyl in his system.

The singer Prince fatally overdosed on fentanyl in 2016.

"The Wire" actor Michael K. Williams died in September of a drug overdose which included fentanyl, p-fluorofentanyl, heroin and cocaine.

In February, Dr. Laura Berman, a nationally known relationship and sex expert, shared a warning for parents when her 16-year-old son died after taking what she described as fentanyl-laced Xanax from a person he allegedly met on Snapchat.

What to know about the dangers of illicitly manufactured fentanyl

In the United States, illicitly manufactured fentanyl is the primary driver of the significant increases in drug overdose deaths in recent years. More than 93,000 people died of a drug overdose last year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In September, the country's top law enforcement officials announced the seizure of more than 1.8 million counterfeit pills during a coordinated series of law enforcement raids throughout the country since early August.

The pills are often made to resemble real prescription opioid medication like Oxycontin, Vicodin and Xanax or stimulants like Adderall, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. Most are made in Mexico, with China supplying the chemicals.

"We cannot stress enough the danger of these counterfeit pills," DEA Administrator Anne Milgram said at a Sept. 30 press conference. "We're seeing these pills being illegally sold in every state in the United States. They are cheap, they are widely available, they can be purchased online and on social media -- so through people's phones, and they're extremely dangerous."

Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid, is used frequently in medical settings. Developed for the pain management treatment of cancer patients, it is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine and 30 to 50 times more potent than heroin, according to the DEA.

"It is a very good and effective medicine at relieving pain in appropriate quantities managed by anesthesia," said Dr. Kimberly Sue, medical director of the National Harm Reduction Coalition and an addiction specialist at Yale University. "What we're seeing in the opioid overdose deaths in this country is related to fentanyl that is obtained outside of the context of medical prescriptions, usually on the street."

In the case of an overdose death, fentanyl can cause a person to stop breathing, according to Sue.

Sue said that when people take medications that are not prescribed to them, they are playing "Russian roulette," given the prevalence of illicitly manufactured fentanyl on the streets today.

"In the case of a pill that you buy off the street, people should assume there is fentanyl present even if it is labeled as some other medication," she said. "I've taken care of many patients who think they're buying an oxycodone or heroin and there's nothing in it. It's just fentanyl."

Sue stressed that there are now resources like fentanyl test strips, which identify the presence of fentanyl in unregulated drugs, and naloxone, a medicine that rapidly reverses an opioid overdose, that can help save people's lives.

"These are really tragic deaths because they are preventable," said Sue. "I tell my patients, 'You have to use all these strategies to try to stay alive and keep your friends alive.'"

If you or someone you love is in need of help, call 1-800-662-HELP (4357) or visit HERE to reach SAMHSA's 24-hour helpline that offers free, confidential treatment referral and information about mental and/or substance use disorders, prevention and recovery.

ABC News' Luke Barr, Quinn Owen and Alexander Mallin contributed to this report.


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Scoreboard roundup -- 10/18/21


(NEW YORK) -- Here are the scores from Monday's sports events:


Boston 12, Houston 3

NY Rangers 2, Toronto 1 (OT)
Philadelphia 6, Seattle 1
Anaheim 3, Calgary 2 (OT)
St. Louis 7, Arizona 4

Tennessee 34, Buffalo 31

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Scoreboard roundup -- 10/17/21


(NEW YORK) -- Here are the scores from Sunday's sports events:


Atlanta 5, LA Dodgers 4 (Atlanta leads series 2-0)

Ottawa 3, Dallas 2

Jacksonville 23, Miami 20
Baltimore 34, L.A. Chargers 6
Cincinnati 34, Detroit 11
Green Bay 24, Chicago 14
Indianapolis 31, Houston 3
Kansas City 31, Washington 13
LA Rams 38, NY Giants 11
Minnesota 34, Carolina 28 (OT)
Arizona 37, Cleveland 14
Dallas 35, New England 29 (OT)
Las Vegas 34, Denver 24
Pittsburgh 23, Seattle 20 (OT)

Chicago 80, Phoenix 74

New York 1, New York City FC 0
Vancouver 2, Sporting Kansas City 1

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Scoreboard roundup -- 10/14/21


(NEW YORK) -- Here are the scores from Thursday's sports events:


LA Dodgers 2, San Francisco 1 (LA wins 3-2)

Atlanta 127, Miami 92
Brooklyn 107, Minnesota 101
Denver 113 Oklahoma City 107 (OT)
Sacramento 116, LA Lakers 112

Buffalo 5, Montreal 1
Ottawa 3, Toronto 2
Columbus 8, Arizona 2
Florida 5, Pittsburgh 4 (OT)
Dallas 3, NY Rangers 2 (OT)
Carolina 6, NY Islanders 3
Tampa Bay 7, Detroit 6 (OT)
Final Seattle 4 Nashville 3

Tampa Bay 28, Philadelphia 22

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Gymnasts call on Congress to dissolve US Olympics board over Larry Nassar case

Saul Loeb - Pool/Getty Images

(WASHINGTON) -- Four elite gymnasts are calling on Congress to dissolve the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee's board of directors, alleging the body fostered a culture of abuse and ignored serial sexual abuse by Larry Nassar, a former USA Gymnastics team doctor.

"We make this request after years of patience, deliberation, and unrequited commitment to learn from our suffering and make amateur sports safe for future generations," Simone Biles, Aly Raisman, McKayla Maroney and Maggie Nichols, who all testified before Congress last month about what they say were failures in the FBI's handling of the sexual abuse case, wrote in a letter to Congressional leaders Wednesday.

"We believe the Board's past actions demonstrate an unwillingness to confront the epidemic problems with abuse that athletes like us have faced and a continued refusal to pursue true and necessary reform of the broken Olympic system," the letter continued.

Nassar was sentenced in 2018 to up to 175 years in prison after pleading guilty to criminal sexual conduct charges. The sentencing came after dozens of girls and women accused him of sexually abusing them.

"Since becoming aware of Nassar's abuse, the USOPC's top priority has been to hide culpability and avoid accountability," the athletes wrote in their letter, claiming the board "took no investigative action whatsoever after learning that Nassar was an abuser."

The athletes wrote that the "ecosystem" that gave shelter to the likes of Nasser "still exists," and they took aim at officials still in positions of power at USOPC and its foundation. They asked that Congress replace the board with one that will investigate "systemic" sexual abuse; otherwise, they said, "athletes will remain at risk."

The four women addressed their letter to Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., who co-sponsored a bill signed into law last year that gives Congress the power to dissolve the board.

In response to the letter, Blumenthal outlined potential next steps, saying Congress should "develop procedures to appoint a new board before dissolving the old one, and must be approved by the House and Senate before being signed by the President."

"We're grateful to these athletes for their continued demand for justice and accountability -- a goal we share," he said in a statement. "We look forward to continuing our work together to ensure that USOPC is held responsible for past failures."

Olympians Biles, Raisman and Maroney, as well as world champion Nichols, testified about the abuse they suffered at the hands of Nassar during a hearing last month with the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is investigating the FBI's handling of the sexual abuse case.

"Over the past few years it has become painfully clear how a survivor's healing is affected by the handling of their abuse, and it disgusts me that we are still fighting for the most basic answers and accountability over six years later," said Raisman, who cited failings by USA Gymnastics, the USOPC and the FBI.

A Department of Justice inspector general report released in July found the FBI made "fundamental errors" in its response to allegations against Nassar that were first brought to the agency in July 2015.

"We have been failed, and we deserve answers," Biles said during her testimony. "Nassar is where he belongs, but those who enabled him deserve to be held accountable. If they are not, I am convinced that this will continue to happen to others across Olympic sports."

Following Nassar's sentencing in 2018, USOPC (at the time known as the U.S. Olympic Committee) penned an open letter to Team USA athletes to "tell all of Nassar's victims and survivors, directly, how incredibly sorry we are."

"We have said it in other contexts, but we have not been direct enough with you," Scott Blackmun, former chief executive of the organization, wrote. "We are sorry for the pain caused by this terrible man, and sorry that you weren't afforded a safe opportunity to pursue your sports dreams. The Olympic family is among those that have failed you."

The entire USA Gymnastics board resigned in the wake of the sentencing, after USOPC demanded the remaining members step aside or face termination.

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Scoreboard roundup -- 10/13/21


(NEW YORK) -- Here are the scores from Wednesday's sports events:

Phoenix 119, Portland 74
Dallas 127, Charlotte 59
Orlando 103, Boston 102
Indiana 109, Memphis 107
New York 108, Detroit 100
Oklahoma City, 108 Denver 99
Utah 124, Milwaukee 120

Toronto 2, Montreal 1
Washington 5, NY Rangers 1
Anaheim 4, Winnipeg 1
Colorado 4, Chicago 2
Edmonton 3, Vancouver 2 (SO)

Phoenix 91, Chicago 86 (OT)

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Scoreboard roundup -- 10/11/21


(NEW YORK) - Here are the scores from Monday's sports events:


Boston 6, Tampa Bay 5
Houston at Chi White Sox (Postponed)

Atlanta 3, Milwaukee 0
San Francisco 1, LA Dodgers 0

Toronto 107, Houston 92
Miami 104, Charlotte 103
Memphis 127, Detroit 92
Philadelphia 115, Brooklyn 104
Utah 127, New Orleans 96
Sacramento 107, Portland 93
Minnesota 128, LA Clippers 100

Baltimore 31 Indianapolis 25 (OT)

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Boston Marathon mother-daughter duo make history with racing chair

Beth Craig

(NEW YORK) — Boston marathon competitors Barbara Singleton and Beth Craig made history today as the first mother-daughter duo to run the race as one team with a racing chair.

"Team Babsie" consisted of Craig running the 26.2 miles while she pushed her mother, who suffers from multiple sclerosis, in a specially designed three-wheeled chair known as a Team Hoyt running chair.

Southbridge Tool, based in Dudley, Massachusetts, makes these running chairs. They designed them with Boston running legend Dick Hoyt, who famously pushed his son Rick Hoyt, a quadriplegic with cerebral palsy, in the special chair in races all over the country, including the Boston Marathon 32 times.

Southbridge Tool co-owner Michael D'Dinato said "it was pretty cool seeing Team Babsie" use the chair for the marathon.

"It was pretty amazing and it feels great," he said. "Dick Hoyt told me one day we're going to change the world with these running chairs and he was right."

Singleton has lived with MS for nearly 40 years and gets around by wheelchair. She and her daughter have been running together for seven years, and were inspired to start after seeing Dick and Rick Hoyt in a race. Dick Hoyt died in March at age 80.

The mother-daughter team has run races in Virginia, Cape Cod and Washington, D.C. together. They even ventured up Mount Washington in New Hampshire, with Craig pushing her mother to the top to watch the sunrise.

At the Boston Marathon today, Craig and Singleton crossed the finish line at 7 hours, 14 minutes and 46 seconds.

"We're overwhelmed with all the cheers that we got on the route, and we're happy to have paid tribute to our Dick Hoyt," Craig said.

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Irina Krush looks to defend title at 2021 US Chess Championships

Andy Cossins/iStock

(NEW YORK) —  The 2021 U.S. Chess Championships are underway and Irina Krush is back to defend her title.

Krush is an eight-time U.S. women's champion and the only female American grandmaster. She told ABC Audio's Perspective podcast that becoming a grandmaster is not easy.

"People will become grandmasters by making things called norms, which is a certain performance, a certain high performance," Krush said. [It's] three sets of three tournaments where they're playing against other grandmasters as well," Krush said. "When you make those norms and you get your rating to a certain point, which is a threshold of 2500, then you earn your Grandmaster title for life.”

Krush said she knew from an early age that she was better than most girls and boys in her age group.

"I became a master at age 12, and I won the U.S. Women's Championship for the first time when I was 14," Krush said. "I was very serious about chess from a young age. I spent my weekends playing chess and sometimes my weekends and my weekdays representing the U.S. in world youth competitions around the world since the age of seven."

Since then, Krush has been in training.

"In my eyes, chess is definitely a sport," Krush said. "It really does require a decent level of physical fitness because it is not as easy as it looks to concentrate at your full capacity [for] four or five or sometimes six hours."

According to Krush, becoming a grandmaster requires mastering perfecting all parts of the game, from the opening moves to the middle tactics and the strategy at the end of the game.

"It requires being exposed to better and better competition, so playing people that are better than you," Krush said. "From the time I was a young girl, I was playing adults, and that certainly helped me improve. Going to tournaments, traveling domestically [then] later on internationally. And you know, when you make that your life, you will see results."

And playing chess isn't the only part of her training. Krush said it also requires a physical commitment, too.

"Certainly, from the time I was an adolescent, I started training physically, jogging regularly, playing table tennis, swimming," Krush said. "You're not a basketball player or a tennis player, but you have to be in good physical condition."

The U.S. Chess Championship runs to Oct. 19.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman shares details about the upcoming NHL season


(NEW YORK) -- Hockey fans can expect new viewing platforms and updates when they watch games this season. ABC, ESPN, ESPN+ and Hulu are changing the way fans can watch their favorite sport while introducing it to everyone in an exciting way.

Watch the full interview from Good Morning America:

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Jets and Falcons to face-off in NFL return to England


(LONDON) -- After a two-year pandemic break, football is returning to London this weekend as the NFL ventures over for the first of two regular season matchups. The New York Jets will face the Atlanta Falcons at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Sunday.

Atlanta coach Arthur Smith commented on trip options this week, saying in past these games have been treated "like a Bowl Week," and teams would stay the entire week. Smith, however, decided to keep his Falcons stateside all week for practice before traveling to the U.K.

Both teams are currently 1-3. The game kicks off at 9:30am ET.

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Visually impaired runner completes marathon with the help of guides, friends


(ST. PAUL, Minn.) -- Laura Sosalla, of St. Paul, Minnesota, was declared legally blind earlier this year due to long-term effects after a battle with COVID-19 last November.

Sosalla was determined and said she wanted to prove to herself that she wouldn't let the impairment change how she lived her life.

She decided to run a marathon. This spring, Sosalla sent a message to Rachel Bentley, founder of United in Stride, an organization that matches visually impaired runners with guides.

Sosalla and Bentley teamed up, along with Bentley's sister, Natalie Elmore, and Sosalla's neighbor, Laura Brennan.

After months of training side-by-side, the four women ran the last mile of the Twin Cities Marathon together on Oct. 3.

Elmore said many noticed her guide bib and the group was showered in positivity from onlookers.

"I felt like it was really just my job to communicate to her all the excitement of the day," Elmore said, "describing that to her and giving her encouragement in that way."
The group crossed the finish line at 5 hours, 38 minutes. Brennan said she was proud to be in such good company, adding: "It was an honor to cross the finish line with her and be able to witness the look of joy on her face as she realized her accomplishment."

Bentley said she's already looking ahead.

"It was a blast running with these women, and I can't wait to do another race soon," she added.

Sosalla told "World News Tonight" on Friday about the support received while overcoming her hardship.

"What COVID has taught me is even though it took my eyes, it gave me an opportunity to connect with people and share life in a completely different way," she said. "I'm so incredibly grateful for that."

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Scoreboard roundup -- 10//7/21


(NEW YORK) -- Here are the scores from Thursday's sports events:

Houston 6, Chi White Sox 1
Tampa Bay 5, Boston 0

Philadelphia 125, Toronto 113
Memphis 128, Charlotte 98
Miami 113, Houston 106

Tampa Bay 6, Florida 2
Ottawa 5, Montreal 4 (SO)
Detroit 4, Pittsburgh 2
Dallas 3, Colorado 1
Minnesota 3, Chicago 2 (OT)
Edmonton 3, Vancouver 2
Arizona 3, Vegas 1

L.A. Rams 26, Seattle 17

Coastal Carolina 52, Arkansas St. 20

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Women's soccer players hold mid-match protest after abuse allegations: 'We will not be silent'

Andrew Mead/ISI Photos/Getty Images

(NEW YORK) -- The athletes of the National Women's Soccer League are refusing to return to "business as usual" after sexual misconduct allegations involving a longtime coach upended their community.

In a show of solidarity that even caught announcers off guard, players paused in the sixth minute of their games on Wednesday night to show solidarity for the former players who waited six years for their allegations of sexual harassment and coercion to be publicly heard.

During all three games -- featuring Gotham FC versus Washington Spirit, North Carolina Courage versus Racing Louisville and Houston Dash versus Portland Thorns -- players from opposing teams linked arms in the center circle during a moment of silence. The games had been delayed due to the scandal.

In a statement released late Wednesday by the National Women's Soccer League Players Association, the athletes said they sought to "reclaim our place on the field, because we will not let our joy be taken from us."

"But this is not business as usual," added the statement, which included a list of eight fresh demands for their league to do more in the wake of the scandal.

"The reckoning has already begun. We will not be silent," the players added. "We will be relentless in our pursuit of a league that deserves the players in it."

Finally, the statement said the the players will refuse to take questions from the media that are not related to the abuse and "systemic change."

Late last week, sports outlet The Athletic published a bombshell report in which two former NWSL players, Sinead Farrelly and Mana Shim, accused North Carolina coach Paul Riley of sexual coercion and misconduct. Riley told The Athletic that the allegations were "completely untrue."

Riley was fired shortly after the report was published. League commissioner Lisa Baird resigned a few days later amid accusations, including emails from Farrelly to Baird published on Twitter by U.S. star Alex Morgan, that she did not act forcefully enough on players' complaints about Riley. The NWSL, FIFA and U.S. Soccer all announced they would launch investigations into the claims.

"On behalf of the entire league, we are heartbroken for what far too many players have had to endure in order to simply play the game they love, and we are so incredibly sorry," the NWSL's newly formed executive committee, created in the wake of Baird's resignation, said in a statement.

"We understand that we must undertake a significant systemic and cultural transformation to address the issues required to become the type of league that NWSL players and their fans deserve and regain the trust of both," the statement added. "We’re committed to doing just that and recognize that this won’t happen overnight, but only through vigilance over time."

The scandal is the latest to hit U.S. women's soccer and reveal the unequal treatment women athletes still face.

In a separate saga, some of the top U.S. women soccer players on the national team have alleged unequal pay for years, despite seeing much more success on the international arena than their American male counterparts.

ESPN contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Eighteen former NBA players charged with defrauding the NBA’s health and welfare benefit plan


(NEW YORK) -- Eighteen former NBA players, including Sebastian Telfair, Glen "Big Baby" Davis and Darius Miles, have been charged with defrauding the NBA's health and welfare benefit plan out of approximately $4 million, federal prosecutors said Thursday.

The players were charged with conspiracy to commit health care fraud and wire fraud as part of what prosecutors called a "widespread scheme to defraud" the NBA health care benefit plan.

They allegedly submitted false or fraudulent claims totaling nearly $4 million, from which the ex-players took in about $2.5 million.

The records submitted by the ex-players "described medical and dental services that were not in fact provided," the indictment said.

The fraudulent invoices were created by a chiropractic office in Encino, California, two dentist offices in Beverly Hills and a wellness office in Washington state. The indictment named none of the offices allegedly involved and they were not charged.

Other ex-players charged include Terrence Williams, Alan Anderson, Anthony Allen, Shannon Brown, William Bynum, Christopher Douglas-Roberts, Melvin Ely, Jamario Moon, Milton Palacio, Ruben Patterson, Eddie Robinson, Gregory Smith, Charles Watson Jr., Antoine Wright and Anthony Wroten.

"The benefit plans provided by the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association to our players are critically important to support their health and well-being throughout their playing careers and over the course of their lives, which makes these allegations particularly disheartening," the NBA said in a statement Thursday afternoon. "We will cooperate fully with the U.S. Attorney's Office in this matter."

The indictment alleges Williams orchestrated the plan, U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said

"Williams recruited other plan participants to defraud the plan by offering to supply them with false invoices to support their false and fraudulent claims to the plan in exchange for the payment kickbacks to Williams," the indictment said.

The indictment also alleges that Williams impersonated an individual who processed the plan's claims. Williams, the indictment said, received $230,000 in kickbacks from the other defendants for his role.

The defrauded NBA plan is intended to give additional coverage to eligible NBA players' existing medical coverage, according to the indictment, by reimbursing "certain medical expenses incurred by eligible active and former NBA players, their spouses, and other dependents that are no covered by a player's primary insurance carrier."

In December 2018, Smith, a former Chicago Bulls forward, sent an invoice to the NBA Health and Welfare Benefit plan claiming reimbursement for a $48,000 root canal at a dentist's office in Beverly Hills. At the time, however, Smith was in Taiwan playing in a basketball game, according to an indictment returned in New York.

Davis, Wroten and Allen all claimed to have had crowns on the same six teeth on the same day, May 11, 2016, the indictment said.

Sixteen of the ex-NBA players have been taken into custody by the FBI and are due to appear in courtrooms in cities across the country before they're brought to New York for arraignment.

Telfair pleaded not guilty Thursday and was ordered released on a $250,000 bond.

His travel is limited to New York City and its immediate suburbs. The judge ordered him to have no contact with his co-defendants and he was told to make efforts to find a job.

Palacio, who is an assistant coach with the Portland Trail Blazers, was placed on administrative leave, the team announced Thursday.

"The federal investigation is independent of the Trail Blazers organization and we will have no further comment pending the outcome of the legal process," the team said in a statement.


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