Former Long County Blue Tide basketball standout Eli Guest said his life changed Dec. 7, 2010, but not in a good way.
On that night, Guest, now 21, was at home with a high-school friend watching a football game when another friend called and invited them to go out in search of girls.
“They call me up and they were like, ‘Aww, man, let’s go see some girls.’ So my intentions were, we were going to go see some females. But when I get over there, you know what I’m saying, they were like, ‘Man, let’s hit a house. Let’s hit a house,’” Guest said.
So instead of looking for girls, Guest, his friend and three other former classmates broke into a house. The Arnold Drive residence they targeted belonged to a couple and their four young children. The break-in happened at around 1 a.m. as the mother and children were sleeping. The father still was up doing laundry.
Guest said members of the group simultaneously kicked in doors and came through multiple entry points in the house. Two men held the family at gunpoint in the living room as Guest and two others went from room to room in search of items to steal. He said they took a large, flat-screen TV and put some smaller things in a pillow case.
However, the five intruders didn’t count on being seen by a neighbor as they loaded the stolen items into the vehicle that Guest was driving. The neighbor watched them load the car, called 911 and told the dispatcher what he had seen. The caller described the vehicle and told the dispatcher what direction it was traveling in.
As Guest and the four other men drove down Arnold Drive, authorities from the Long County Sheriff’s Office and the Ludowici Police Department chased them. The chase concluded when Guest lost control of his mother’s car on Sharpe Road. When the car came to a stop, Guest and three others fled on foot. Authorities detained the alleged leader of the group, but only after he tried to grab an officer’s gun, scuffled with the officer and accidentally was shot in the leg.
Later that day, Guest and two others — also former members of the Blue Tide basketball team — turned themselves in. The fourth suspect, who had fled the scene, also eventually was arrested.
Guest recently pleaded guilty to the charges he faced in connection with the case and also to a break-in that occurred before the Dec. 7, 2010, incident. On counts of non-violent burglary and robbery, he was sentenced to 18 years — 10 to serve in prison and eight on probation.
Guest said he now realizes that his life was good before the break-ins. He had been a star athlete at Long County High School and had earned a scholarship to Mississippi Delta Community College. He was a popular student who earned a senior superlative. Guest said he had a supportive mother and father and many friends in his hometown of Ludowici. He regrets letting others pressure him into making bad choices.
“I let them influence me into doing things that I knew I shouldn’t,” Guest said. “My decision scarred me for the rest of my life, or at least until I’m 39. It’s not worth it. Be all you can be. A lot of the friends who claim to be your friends — they’re not. Some may be loyal, but at the end of it all, the ones who will be there for you faithfully is your family.”
Guest acknowledges his mistakes and said he is sorry for hurting the families he robbed and for the pain he has caused his family.
“To the families, I apologize. I mean, I am sorry. I’m so sorry that it happened to them. And to my family, I’m sorry that I put them through so much hurt,” he said.
Guest said he plans to serve his time and return to Long County, where he’d like to open a barbershop. He said he hopes others will learn from his mistakes.
“My prayer is that for every young or old person that reads this article, I hope some life gets touched. I pray that I save a life or a career. God bless you all,” Guest said.