Kate Fagan | ESPN The Magazine | May 2015
ON THE MORNING of Jan. 17, 2014, Madison Holleran awoke in her dorm room at the University of Pennsylvania. She had spent the previous night watching the movie The Parent Trap with her good friend Ingrid Hung. Madison went to class. She took a test. She told a few friends she would meet them later that night at the dining hall. She went to the Penn bookstore and bought gifts for her family.
While she was there, her dad called. “Maddy, have you found a therapist down there yet?” he asked.
“No, but don’t worry, Daddy, I’ll find one,” she told him.
But she had no intention of finding one. In fact, she was, at that exact moment, buying the items she would leave for her family at the top of a parking garage. Godiva chocolates for her dad. Two necklaces for her mom. Gingersnaps for her grandparents, who always had those cookies in their home. Outfits for her nephew, Hayes, who had been born two weeks earlier. The Happiness Project for Ingrid, with a note scribbled inside. And a picture of herself as a young kid, holding a tennis racket. Over winter break she had told her dad that she was borrowing that picture, that she needed it for something.
She didn’t say what.
Then, on the evening of Jan. 17, just after dusk settled on the city, Madison took a running leap off the ninth level of a parking garage in downtown Philadelphia.
She was 19 years old.
Writer bio: Kate Fagan is a columnist and feature writer for ESPN.com and ESPN The Magazine. Fagan, a New York native (forgive her), spent three seasons covering the 76ers for The Philadelphia Inquirer. Her work was cited in the anthology of Best American Sports Writing 2013.