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SLU rugby coach eulogizes former player who died from overdose

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ST. LOUIS (KTVI) - Sam Binz, 25, was a lot like many of the young men Saint Louis University Club Rugby Coach Justin Whitton had coached. But Binz was buried Monday after a heroin overdose. Whitton had known him for years.

“Seven years,” said Whitton. “Four years as a player. He graduated from our program in 2013, and obviously he's been around a lot since then. He worked for my law firm at times. He was still around the club, and traveled with us on occasion.”

Whitton said he was aware of the fact that Binz struggled with addiction.

“He recently moved up to Chicago, about a month ago,” said Whitton. “Took a new job and started playing on a rugby club up there. He came home about a week ago to visit. Unfortunately, a relatively had over-dosed and was on life support. We think that might have been the trigger.”

Binz’ family asked Whitton to deal with the subject of addiction in his eulogy.

“You know I addressed it to young people in the crowd,” he said. “And let them know not only there is help available, but they're not alone. The other issue is... sometimes I think young people think they can out-smart it. And they think ‘not me.’ Or they do go down that road, and they think they beat it. And they don't realize it's a life-long battle, and it can grab them at any time.”

Coach Whitton comes about his knowledge of the scourge of heroin use in his day job. He’s a defense attorney.

“It's what I'm hearing from other defense attorneys and also from police officers,” said Whitton. “We're seeing a couple different things, where the heroin is being blended with other drugs, and they're also saying there's a more potent version that's going around. Unfortunately reality for users is...they don't know the difference.”