Basketball Star's Home Burns To The Ground

The hill top home built for former NBA and Gulfport High star Mah-Moud Abdul'Rauf went up in flames Monday morning. The 82 hundred square foot house is located in North Hancock County, about a half mile from the High 53 Highway 603 juncture.

The Rauf family had never moved into the house in fact, it was for sale Mah-Moud told WLOX, the power had never been turned on at the house. Meanwhile fire Investigators began initial work on determining a cause.

A couple headed to Jackson Monday morning saw flames shooting from the Rauf's home and called authorities.

The six bedroom, six bath home which included a theater room was originally supposed to be the Rauf's dream home in the Countryside."I don't know what to think right now I don't want to make any pre judgments," said Mah Moud Abdul' Rauf.

Construction crews began building the home more than a year and a half ago. And the Rauf's say they've had problems from the start. They say the letters KKK were spray painted on the first sign like this one that went up. The family says vandals also rammed a car or truck into the garage while it was under construction... And they also say racial slurs were written on the contractors Orange Grove Office . Last year the contractor told WLOX NEWS he had received calls threatening his life and on one occasion a threat was made that the Rauf's house would burn down before it was finished.

Rauf, says he's not sure if the cases are connected he'll just wait and see. "It's hard to say like I say I don't want to make any prejudgments I do remember one statement that was made that came true said before I move in it would be burned down this is just an indication I think of how far we've got to go in terms of human relations in this country period for something like this to happen."

Hancock County Fire Marshall says investigators aren't ruling out arson, but say they're not jumping to conclusions either. "We don't know how it started or why we're going to have crews in here from the State Fire Marshal's Office here in the morning and ATF is going to come in here and help us out.We want to cover all basis's on this thing to make sure we don't miss anything on this one." said one investigator.

Fire fighters from two departments used 28-thousand gallons of water battling the blaze. David Dry, State Marshall's Office said the amount of damage makes it more difficult to find out what really happened. But, The Rauf's hope answers come soon.

No one was hurt in the early morning fire. Rauf, formerly Chris Jackson, was a record breaking guard at Gulfport High School. He then went to L.S.U. for two years, before turning pro. He played several years in the N.B.A.

The fire Marshal is asking anyone who may have seen anything before the fire to call the Sheriff's Department at 467-5101, and ask for County Fire Marshal Richard Pate.