Kevin Ellison: Former USC Standout Arrested in Bizarre Arson Case

Sam WestmorelandFeatured ColumnistJune 15, 2012

SAN DIEGO, CA - CIRCA 2010: In this handout image provided by the NFL, Kevin Ellison of the San Diego Chargers poses for his 2010 NFL headshot circa 2010 in San Diego, California. (Photo by NFL via Getty Images)
Handout/Getty Images

Former USC standout Kevin Ellison was arrested on the morning of June 15 on arson charges, in what has to be one of the most bizarre news stories of the year. 

According to a report from the Spokane Spokesman-Review, the 25-year-old arena league linebacker told authorities that he set his third-floor apartment on fire with a marijuana blunt because God told him to. 

According to court documents, Ellison was at the hospital when he told Spokane Valley Deputy Fire Marshal Clifton Mehaffey that he’d set the fire with a cigar “because ‘God’ had told him to set the bed on fire.” Mehaffey said Ellison stopped talking to him after he called a family member and was advised to get a lawyer.

Some things are so bizarre, you just can't make them up. 

Authorities reported to Ellison's apartment at around 5:30 AM, after another unit reported the blaze en route to another emergency and found flames and smoke coming from his third-floor apartment. According to the report, Ellison then leapt from his window on the third floor to escape the blaze. 

He was taken to the hospital and treated for smoke inhalation and was eventually arrested. 

Ellison was a standout player at USC, making the All-Pac-10 freshman squad as a safety in 2006, and would be a starter in all three of his seasons with the Trojans. He was drafted in the sixth round of the 2009 NFL draft by the San Diego Chargers, but was waived by the end of the season, after a controlled substance charge was filed against him.

He was picked up by the Seattle Seahawks, but never played a down for the team, failing a physical before being waived again. 

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Currently, Ellison plies his craft for the Spokane Shock arena football team, where he lines up as a linebacker/defensive end. 

An agent contacted Ellison after he gave his unusual statement, but he declined to comment and told authorities "he just wanted to get out of it and for it all to go away,” according to documents filed in U.S. District Court.

The 25-year-old now faces federal felony arson charges and, according to the report, will be held until a June 19 hearing to determine whether he will be permitted out on bail while awaiting trial for the charges he faces.