What Rae Carruth's Time In Prison Was Really Like

Correction 10/26/2022: A previous version of this article stated that Rae Carruth attended and played football for University of Carolina. Carruth actually played football for University of Colorado before playing for the Carolina Panthers. 

Lance Armstrong, Mike Tyson, and Tonya Harding — there have been plenty of sports stars who have ruined their careers in a matter of seconds. However, undoubtedly, one of the most epic (and horrific) falls from grace involved former NFL player Rae Carruth. Within two years, the wide receiver went from NFL first-round pick to prisoner 0712822 (per The Charlotte Observer). Carruth was a shining star during his days at the University of Colorado, so it wasn't surprising when he was snatched up by the Carolina Panthers during the 1997 draft. However, it was beyond shocking when he was busted in a murder-for-hire plot in 1997.

CNN reports that Carruth had hired three accomplices to murder his eight-months-pregnant girlfriend, Cherica Adams, because she'd refused to have an abortion. Despite being shot four times, Adams managed to call 911. She was rushed to the hospital and underwent an emergency cesarean. Adams died a month later. Her baby, Chancellor Lee Adams, survived but was diagnosed with cerebral palsy and severe brain damage; he's now 23 and cared for by Adams' mom, Saundra Adams.

Per Bleacher Report, Carruth immediately went on the run to escape prosecution. The feds ultimately discovered him "hiding in a car trunk" outside of a Tennessee hotel. He was convicted of conspiracy to commit murder in 2001 and sentenced to 18 to 24 years. Carruth was released from the Sampson Correctional Institution in Clinton, North Carolina, in October 2018. So, what was Rae Carruth's time In prison really like?

Rae Carruth felt like a caged animal in a zoo

Over the years, there have been plenty of secrets the NFL has tried to hide. However, it would be impossible to cover up such a heinous crime committed by one of their up-and-coming star athletes. The Tampa Bay Times reports that despite the media swarm, Rae Carruth, who now goes by Rae Wiggins, kept schtum as he exited the Sampson Correctional Institution in 2018. Carruth, who never admitted his guilt or acknowledged any part in the murder of his girlfriend, had been an English major at UNC.

In 2000, he flexed his literary muscles to describe his experience of serving time behind bars. Carruth wrote an ode to incarceration titled "How it feels to be caged." CMM published an excerpt of the poem. It starts: "Think about how many times you've been to the zoo. Ever wonder how it would feel if one of the animals were you? Ever ask yourself if it's possible for a gorilla to cry if the eagles or condors miss the sky? Ever look into the eyes of a giraffe or gazelle, and ask yourself how they survive in a lifeless hell?"

"I bet you've never sensed the animals' pain, humility or rage. Because it's impossible to conceive unless you've lived on both sides of the cage," it ends. However, unlike gorillas, giraffes, or gazelles, Carruth could enjoy exercise breaks, as many ramen noodles as you can eat, phone calls, and visits with loved ones.

Rae Carruth spent a lot of time writing

Rae Carruth's mom, Theodry Swift, spoke to WBTV just before her son left prison. She said they'd had weekly phone calls while he was incarcerated, and even though she couldn't be there for his release, she couldn't wait to "hug him" again. "If you took overjoyed, excited, all the positive words into a basket and shook it up, that would be me," she shared. "He has grown so much. You can't go into a situation like this one way and not come out changed for the better," she continued. However, the jury's still out on that count.

Yahoo! Sports reports that Carruth used his literary skills again in 2018. He wrote "a 3,000-word handwritten letter" to his murdered girlfriend's mom, Saundra Adams. He sent it to WBTV so it would be published publicly. In the letter Carruth insisted he wasn't attempting "to win anyone over, especially the public" and said he'd "long accepted" that he was now "a social pariah." He accused Adams of spreading lies and misinformation about him and vowed he wanted to play an active part in his son, Chancellor Adams' life.

"With all that he's been through, Chancellor is nothing less than a miracle child," Carruth wrote. He said it was "heartwrenching and inspiring" how Adams had dealt with how she "lost [her] daughter" and raised his son. He then went into attack mode, asking how she could continually tell "utter fabrications with a straight face."

Rae Carruth wanted to care for his son post-prison

Following his release from prison, Rae Carruth finally — sort of — 'fessed up to playing a role in the death of his pregnant girlfriend, Cherica Adams. "I'm apologizing for the loss of her daughter. I'm apologizing for the impairment of my son," Carruth told WBTV. "I feel responsible for everything that happened. And I just want her to know that truly I am sorry for everything."

However, he insisted that despite never having wanted his son to be born in the first place, he should be the person caring for him now he was out of prison. "I should be raising my son. His mother should be raising her son," Carruth said. "Ms. Adams should not be doing this, and I want that responsibility back." Addressing the elephant in the room, Carruth acknowledged Chancellor's mother wasn't alive to care for him. However, "he could still have me, and I could still make a difference, and I don't think that's anyone's responsibility when I'm still here."

 In 2019, WBTV reported that as the 20th anniversary of Cherica's death approached, Carruth sent Saundra Adams a check for "several thousand dollars" for his son. There was no note enclosed, telephone number, or return address. Carruth still hasn't seen Chancellor since he was a baby.