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Relative: Woman slain by Chiefs player brought joy

Relative: Woman slain by Chiefs player brought joy

BLUE RIDGE, Texas (AP) The slain girlfriend of Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher was a loyal friend who brought joy to others with her smiles and laughter, a relative said Thursday at a memorial service for the woman.

Belcher fatally shot 22-year-old Kasandra Perkins on Saturday at the Kansas City home they shared with their 3-month-old daughter, Zoey. He then drove to the Chiefs practice facility at Arrowhead Stadium, where coach Romeo Crennel, general manager Scott Pioli and defensive assistant Gary Gibbs witnessed Belcher commit suicide.

Perkins was from Texas, and family and friends gathered at a church in Blue Ridge on Thursday to remember her. Her great-uncle Ted Downing said Perkins considered Zoey to be the love of her life.

``She had a deep, deep understanding about the important things in life,'' Downing told mourners.

He recalled a time in Perkins' childhood when she got upset that a friend of hers didn't get a desired part in a play.

``She always had no shortage of friends - and I mean good friends,'' Downing said.

A white casket bedecked with a spray of white lilies and pink roses was the mourners' focal point at Ridgeview Family Fellowship in Blue Ridge, about 40 miles northeast of Dallas.

Steve Sweeney, senior pastor at Ridgeview, offered a prayer for God to bring healing to both her family and Belcher's family. He also prayed for strength for Zoey, who was at the service.

Downing told the about 200 mourners, including Chiefs team chairman Clark Hunt, that Perkins always called him her ``aunt'' after her brother had decided for some reason to call his wife ``uncle.'' He said that in recent months, Perkins had informed him she'd be calling him ``auntie'' to reflect the diversity in their multiracial family.

He said Perkins had a knack for making everyone she met ``feel like the most important person in the world.''

``To put it simply, Kasi loved life,'' he said.

According to a police report, officers were called to the Kansas City, Mo., home of Belcher, 25, and Perkins about 7:50 a.m. Saturday. Police found Perkins on the floor of the master bathroom.

Belcher then drove about five miles to Arrowhead Stadium. When police arrived, Belcher moved behind a vehicle, out of clear view of officers, according to police. He then knelt down and shot himself once in the head.

According to Perkins' obituary, she was born in nearby McKinney, just north of Dallas, and attended elementary and middle school in the Dallas suburb of Garland. She graduated from Anderson High School in Austin in 2009. She wanted to become a teacher.

Downing said after the service that it hasn't been decided yet who will raise Zoey.

The service included a slideshow of photos of Perkins as she grew up, from a shot of her with a cowboy hat on a horse as a young girl to posing in a graduation gown to photos of her pregnant and then with her daughter.

As the slideshow of photos ended, a note from Perkins' mother was shown in which she writes that she'll promise to make sure Zoey knows ``what a beautiful person her mother was.''

Downing ended his eulogy by saying, ``Goodbye for now, Kasi. We'll see you one day. I love you.''

Another service for Perkins will be held in Austin, where Perkins' father lives. Life Celebration Funeral Home said that service will be held Saturday, followed by burial in nearby Pflugerville.

FC Dallas-Vancouver Whitecaps match postponed after eight positive coronavirus tests

FC Dallas-Vancouver Whitecaps match postponed after eight positive coronavirus tests

The MLS is Back Tournament match between FC Dallas and the Vancouver Whitecaps set for Thursday has been postponed after eight players tested positive for the coronavirus.

The group-stage game will be rescheduled, the league said Saturday.

FC Dallas announced earlier this week that six players had tested positive for the virus upon arrival in Florida for the tournament. The entire team was quarantined.

Two Whitecaps players tested positive, forcing the team to remain in Canada, the league said. Additional tests were negative, but the team had to push back travel until Monday.

RELATED: WHEN ARE SPORTS RETURNING FROM CORONAVIRUS

The MLS is Back Tournament is set to open on Wednesday with a match between Orlando City and expansion Inter Miami.

The league's 26 teams will be sequestered in hotels for the duration of the monthlong tournament played without fans at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex at Walt Disney World.

MLS shut down because of the coronavirus pandemic on March 12 after teams had each played two games.

FC Dallas said all players and staff tested negative for the coronavirus before leaving for the tournament on last Saturday. Upon arrival, two players tested positive. Subsequent tests found four more players infected with the virus that causes COVID-19.

"In consultation with MLS medical officials, FC Dallas took proactive steps to isolate the newly affected players as well as all FC Dallas players and staff in Orlando out of an abundance of caution. All members of the club delegation are following MLS health and safety protocols and will remain quarantined in their hotel rooms pending the results of further COVID-19 testing," the team said in a statement.

The names of the players were not released.

The league said no other team was in contact with the FC Dallas delegation. League protocol requires players and staff to be tested every two days upon arrival in Florida.

FC Dallas will now open the tournament on July 15 against the Seattle Sounders, while the Whitecaps will play the San Jose Earthquakes later that day.

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Davey Martinez names Carter Kieboom the Nationals’ starting third baseman

Davey Martinez names Carter Kieboom the Nationals’ starting third baseman

Carter Kieboom has not joined the Nationals for their on-field workouts yet. But, he does have a job assignment.

Davey Martinez said Saturday that Kieboom will be the team’s full-time third baseman when the season starts. The position was previously a competition between the rookie and veteran Asdrúbal Cabrera in spring training.

“As of right now, yes, I anticipate in a 60-game season, he’s going to go out there and play every day,” Martinez said of Kieboom.

The decision answers one of the largest questions of the offseason for the defending World Series champions. Their managing principal owner, Mark Lerner, said they could not afford Stephen Strasburg and Anthony Rendon. So, they paid Strasburg and not Rendon. He signed with Anaheim.

Josh Donaldson was a high-end free agent they could have paid to play third base. He signed a four-year, $92 million contract with Minnesota. Trade rumors were also attached to Chicago’s Kris Bryant and Seattle’s Kyle Seager.

RELATED: WHAT DOES A SHORTENED SEASON MEAN FOR KIEBOOM?

None of that happened. The Nationals instead entered spring training with a question about who would replace Rendon, an MVP finalist in 2019, someone the organization drafted, developed and played for seven years, and the central figure in their offense. They needed a replacement and settled on Kieboom.

The 22-year-old’s brief, 11-game stint in the major leagues did not go well last season. He compiled -1.0 bWAR in barely two weeks. He struggled defensively at shortstop and produced an OPS-plus of 24 at the plate. However, the sample size is minuscule.

Washington has a history of playing its top prospects consistently under Mike Rizzo. Bryce Harper and Juan Soto were those the organization deemed ready at a young age, so they brought them up and put them in the field for good. The same idea follows Kieboom into the short season.

Kieboom started nine games at third base for Triple-A Fresno late last season. He made four errors. He played in 14 of the 17 spring training games before baseball slammed to a stop this year. Kieboom made three errors in 10 starts at third base then. It’s an alarming rate. That’s a 49-error full season. Rendon made 53 errors in seven seasons playing third base (729 starts).

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“The biggest thing for him was obviously his defense,” Martinez said. “We feel that he’s going to hit here. One thing when he left, [Tim Bogar] and Chip [Hale] talked to him about his footwork and really honing in on his footwork and getting his feet turned to where he’s going to throw at all times. I know he’s been working out. He’s hit tons. I know he’s faced live pitching and [was] trying to keep in shape the best he can and trying to do baseball activities as much as he can.”

Kieboom is expected to join the group workouts in Nationals Park on Sunday. When the season starts, he will be standing at third base, a legacy spot within the organization first held by Ryan Zimmerman then Rendon. Even in a short year, Kieboom will be compared to the person he is replacing, though he would argue there is no comparison.

“I’m not here to fill [Anthony Rendon's] shoes,” Kieboom told NBC Sports Washington in February. “That guy, in every category possible -- baseball, clubhouse, off the field, family, he checks all the boxes. He does it. He’s a special player. That’s not my job, to fill his shoes. My job’s to be myself, do what I can. Control what I can control.

“There’s going to be expectations of course. There’s going to be comparisons to what I do versus what Tony does. But that just comes with the job. That comes with anything when somebody as great as he is leaves, and joins another team and somebody needs to come in and fill the spot. I wouldn’t even say I’m replacing him. I don’t -- he’s not replaceable. But I’m here to fill a spot, take care of business, play my game and go from there.”

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