DENVER (AP) -- Two years ago, Kathy Redmond wept at the suicide of an NFL player's girlfriend, a woman she had never met.
Akina Wilson, 22, killed herself in the garage of a townhouse she shared with New York Giants defensive back Tito Wooten shortly after a fight that led to Wooten's arrest on assault charges. The charges were later dropped.
''That was the first time I broke down and cried over anyone besides myself,'' said Redmond, who had just settled a lawsuit against the University of Nebraska that said she was raped in a dorm by football player Christian Peter.
Three months after Wilson's suicide, Redmond formed the National Coalition Against Violent Athletes. She was already drawing up the papers when Wilson died but the case pushed Redmond a little harder.
Redmond, 26, runs the coalition in her spare time out of her home in suburban Littleton. She and about 30 volunteers nationwide track violence by athletes and help victims navigate the legal system. Redmond also speaks to schools, athletes and the public.
Athletes have gotten almost as many headlines recently for criminal charges than for the games they play.
A day after the St. Louis Rams' victory in the Super Bowl over the Tennessee Titans, Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis was charged with the murder of two men in a fight in Atlanta.
In December, Rae Carruth, then a wide receiver for the Carolina Panthers, was charged with murder in the shooting of his pregnant girlfriend.
NFL officials say a small percentage of its athletes are violent off the field, and some statistics support that. But the arrests of Lewis and Carruth, and of several other NFL players this season, have drawn even more attention to the issue.
League spokesman Greg Aiello said the league has effective programs to combat off-the-field violence.
Redmond hears daily from women who say they have been assaulted by athletes, and she offers them comfort and advice. ''I know what it's like to feel left alone as a victim,'' she said.
Women who are attacked by athletes often struggle by themselves against professional public relations staffs that speak for the players.
She said she has seen victims ''massacred in the press,'' and advised them to talk to reporters.
By getting their stories out, she said, they can avoid being seen as villains for accusing a popular athlete of a serious crime.
Athletes' popularity and prowess often make their teams unwilling to hold them accountable for off-the-field violence, she contended. That's where her coalition comes in.
''We want everyone -- all coaches, all athletes, all schools -- to know we're watching them,'' she said.
Redmond takes her message to schools, teams and the public whenever she can.
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