On Aug. 26, 2018, Tim Anselimo’s life changed forever when he was wounded during a mass shooting in Jacksonville, Fla., that killed three and injured 11. His story will be the subject of this weekend’s “SC Featured” segment on SportsCenter.
A professional gamer who goes by the name “oLARRY,” Anselimo was participating in a “Madden NFL 19” tournament when a shooter reigned terror on the competition. He was shot in the chest as he looked into the eyes of the gunman and then was shot three more times while escaping.
Anselimo’s injuries included hand damage and his future as a gamer was in doubt. He was dropped by Bucks Gaming, the NBA 2K League esports team for the Milwaukee Bucks. During the offseason, he learned to hold the game controller differently and eventually returned to competition for season two of the NBA 2K League.
Dale Mauldin, who produced “O’LARRY’S LEGEND” for ESPN Features, said his goal was to emphasize how serious Anselimo’s situation was after the shooting.
“One of the things that’s always difficult is that our viewers’ knowledge of esports is so varied,” said Mauldin, who produced an “SC Featured” piece last year on the formation of the NBA 2K League. “Some people are very into it and know exactly what it takes and other people still see it as kids playing games.
“But to play at the level they play, and for the injury that he sustained, it’s no different than an ACL tear in any other traditional sport,” he said. “He almost lost his life, he almost lost his career, and it’s not just, ‘Oh, you can’t play video games anymore,’ you’ve lost your way of life – the thing that’s not only making you happy but is also making you money and providing you your life.”
Mauldin and reporter Jen Lada worked closely with ESPN.com esports reporter Jacob Wolf, who was dispatched to Jacksonville to cover the story after the shooting and developed a relationship with Anselimo and his family. Mauldin, a gamer himself, had already built contacts within the esports community from producing the previous story.
The feature will debut in the 8 a.m. ET hour of SportsCenter on Saturday and will re-air in other editions throughout the weekend. There also will be a companion written piece by Wolf on ESPN.com.
EDITOR’S NOTE: The first-ever ESPN Collegiate esports Championship is May 10-12. Check back with Front Row on Wednesday for more on the event.