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Former McGill basketball player was 43

MONTREAL - McGill University Athletics and Recreation regretfully announces the death of Mark Alessio, who played for the Redmen basketball team in 1990-91. He was 43.

A teacher who was born in Guelph, Ont., and grew up in the nearby city of London, Alessio was vacationing on the island nation of Madagascar, located off the southeast African coast, when he was shot and killed on Feb. 23 in the capital city of Antananarivo, apparently at the hands of would-be burglars. Based on second-hand accounts of what happened, it appears Alessio may have gone outside to investigate some sort of disturbance when he was shot

The 6-foot-4, 210-pound forward had played at Queen's University and after graduating in 1989 with honours in psychology, he enrolled at McGill for a post-graduate program and completed a diploma in elementary education in 1991. He played in 18 games overall for then Redmen coach Ken Schildroth and tallied 55 points with 35 rebounds, 12 assists and seven steals.

Alessio was described in the team's media guide as a "tough, hard-working player who brings experience, hustle and positive attitude with the ability to slash to the basket and finish effectively."

Among the veterans on the Redmen that year was team captain Bruce McElroy, Paul Brousseau, Todd McDougall, Doug McMahon and Jamie Simon. Also part of that team was Cameron Mathison, now an actor best known for his role on the ABC soap opera All My Children. Mathison was also featured as a celebrity dancer on the fifth season of ABC's Dancing With The Stars and is currently a correspondent for ABC's Good Morning America.

"Mark's energy and positive attitude were infectious," said Bruce Bird, who was a sophomore on that squad and later served as team captain. "Mark's bond was to his teammates from Day 1 and that never changed. He offered endless encouragements to all of us. When I think back, I remember Mark as being very caring, always smiling, often laughing, well dressed and always eager to compete."

Alessio, whose interests included photography and sports, travelled the world after leaving McGill, teaching computer courses in Hong Kong, Mexico and Spain before deciding to take some time off and return to Madagascar, where he had previously taught at an American school in Antananarivo.

According to an account in the Madagascar newspaper Les Nouvelles, Alessio and his girlfriend were staying at a home in the village of Remiloulou. The home had been rented by a European couple and their children, who fled Madagascar after civil unrest broke out in late January. About midnight last Sunday, a witness saw four people near the home. They left, but came back about 1:30 a.m. and the witness reported hearing a noise. When Alessio went to investigate the noise, he encountered the masked men and was shot in the face and chest.

Foreign Affairs Canada has issued an official warning advising against non-essential travel to Madagascar. "Canadians should evaluate their own personal circumstances to determine whether their continued presence in Madagascar is essential," reads the warning on the Foreign Affairs website.

Alessio is survived by his mother, Ria of Guelph, his father, Marco of Grande Prairie, Alta., and his brother Michael of Elora, Ont., plus numerous uncles, aunts, cousins, nephews and nieces.

Visitation is scheduled to take place at the Gilbert MacIntyre and Son Funeral Home, Hart Chapel, 1099 Gordon Street in Guelph on Sunday from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m. A funeral service will be held in the funeral home chapel on Monday (March 2) at 11 a.m. in the funeral home chapel.

Donation's on Mark's behalf can be made to "One Laptop per Child". Cards are available at the funeral home (519-821-5077) and condolences can be sent online at



Earl Zukerman
Communications Officer
Dept. of Athletics & Recreation, Room 225 B
McGill University
475 Pine Avenue W.,
Montreal, QC H2W 1S4
514-398-7012 (Tel.)
514-398-1956 (Fax)



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