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Lonnie White, ex-USC player and writer, dies at 49

The Associated Press

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Lonnie White, the former Southern California football player who worked as a Los Angeles Times sports writer for two decades, has died. He was 49.

White died Saturday at Glendale Memorial Hospital, his sister Terri told the Times (http://lat.ms/1dKB89i). He'd had a number of health problems in recent years, she said.

White worked for the Times from 1987 to 2008. He covered UCLA and NFL football, USC basketball as well as the LA Clippers and Kings. He wrote the book ''UCLA vs. USC: 75 years of the Greatest Rivalry in Sports.''

White was a receiver and special-teams player at USC, where he played under John Robinson and Ted Tollner from 1982-86. He set a season record in kickoff return yardage that stood until 2010.

USC athletic department spokesman Tim Tessalone called him one of the university's ''favorite sons.''

White went to training camp with the New Orleans Saints before his football career ended.

He was the subject of a 2010 Discovery Health Channel television show that documented his long struggle with hidradenitis suppurativa, a painful skin disease.

In 2011, White wrote a confessional column for the online publication The Daily admitting that he took $14,000 in illegal payments during his USC career, mostly by selling game tickets allotted to scholarship players.

''To this day, it's something I'm ashamed about,'' White wrote. ''Rent was overdue, and my household bills were delinquent. I needed the money to live. So accepting the $14,000 in different forms of 'benefits' over my college years three decades ago was an act of survival.''

White wrote that his older brother, Tim, also a USC football player, introduced him to a wealthy supporter of the Trojans who made the payments without the coaches' knowledge.

''Even though I knew what I was doing was wrong, it seemed like everyone I knew who played college football enjoyed some type of extra benefits as a player,'' White wrote.

In addition to his brother and two sisters, White is survived by his wife, Kimberly, from whom he was separated, the Times said.

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Information from: Los Angeles Times, http://www.latimes.com

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