De'Runnya Wilson

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De'Runnya S. "Bear" Wilson (born September 14, 1994; died January 21, 2020 in Birmingham) was a reserve wide receiver for the Albany Empire of the Arena Football League and former football and basketball star for the Wenonah Dragons and Mississippi State Bulldogs.

Wilson grew up in Birmingham as one of six children raised by a single mother. He attended Wenonah High School, where he was primarily a basketball star. He led the Dregons to three consecutive state championships under coach Cedric Lane. Wilson was named "Player of the Year" in the Birmingham metro area by the Birmingham News in 2012. In 2013 he named "Mr Basketball" for the state of Alabama, and selected for Parade magazine's All-American first team.

He joined Wenonah's football team during his senior season, and caught 31 passes for 682 yards, helping lead the Dragons to a 10-2 season. He was rated as a three-star football recruit by several national rating services. He accepted a scholarship offer from Mississippi State University, turning down Auburn, Cincinnati, Colorado State, Louisville, Tennessee, and UAB.

Wilson made his college debut in the first game of the Bulldogs' 2013 season, catching 2 passes for 17 yards in a 21-3 loss to Oklahoma State. Wilson's first touchdown came on a 59-yard pass from Tyler Russell against LSU. Wilson had a breakout game against Texas A&M, catching 7 passes for 75 yards and 2 touchdowns. After the football season ended, Wilson joined the Mississippi State Bulldogs men's basketball team. He appeared in 7 games, scoring a total of 6 points with 11 rebounds.

Wilson started every game at receiver for the Bulldogs during his sophomore season in 2014. He had four catches and a touchdown in each of the Bulldogs' wins over top 10 teams LSU, Texas A&M, and Auburn, helping lead the Bulldogs to a No. 1 ranking. Wilson continued to play well through the end of the season, recording 8 catches each in losses to Alabama and Ole Miss. He followed it up with 9 catches and 2 touchdowns in the 2014 Orange Bowl. Wilson was the team's leading receiver in catches, receiving yards, and touchdowns. He was included on the roster for the 2014-2015 Bulldogs men's basketball team, but did not appear in any games.

During his 2015 junior season Wilson had 8 catches and a touchdown in a 21-19 loss to LSU, followed by 102 yards and 2 touchdowns in a rainy 31-13 win over Missouri, and a career-high 10 receptions in a 51-50 victory over Arkansas.

Wilson elected to enter the NFL draft after his junior season, announcing his decision on Instagram on January 1, 2016. He left Mississippi State ranked 5th all-time in receptions with 133 catches, 6th in receiving yards (1,949), and 2nd in touchdowns (22). Despite comparisons to highly-regarded NFL receivers, Wilson was not drafted. He was invited to workout with the Chicago Bears in October, but never signed.

In 2015, 2016 and 2017 Wilson was charged three separate times with marijuana possession in Alabama and Mississippi. Some of those charges were dismissed, and none led to criminal conviction. Wilson continued to work out in hopes of finding a spot on a professional team. He signed with the Albany Empire of the Arena Football League in March 2018 and was placed on "recallable reassignment" later that month.

On January 20, 2020 Wilson was found dead at his home in Birmingham's Mason City neighborhood. The apparent cause was a gunshot wound. His death was investigated by Birmingham Police as a homicide.


  • "Metro Boys Player of the Year Derunnya Wilson on the move to fulfill his dreams." (March 21, 2012) The Birmingham News
  • Sentell, Jeff (October 9, 2012) "Wenonah's 6-foot-6 De'Runnya Wilson picks up his first SEC football offer." The Birmingham News
  • Robinson, Carol (January 21, 2020) "Ex-football standout De’Runnya Wilson found slain in southwest Birmingham house." The Birmingham News
  • "De'Runnya Wilson" (January 22, 2020) Wikipedia - accessed January 22, 2020
  • Bean, Josh (January 22, 2020) "Mr. Basketball De’Runnya Wilson remembered for how he lived, not how he died." The Birmingham News
  • Robinson, Carol (January 23, 2020) "‘My brother was a legend’: De’Runnya Wilson’s family seeks answers in fatal shooting." The Birmingham News