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Friends: Chiefs' Jovan Belcher and girlfriend had strained relationship

The day after Kansas City Chiefs' linebacker Jovan Belcher fatally shot his girlfriend and then killed himself, fans mourned a tragedy. NBC's Than Truong reports.

The relationship between Kansas Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher and his girlfriend, Kasandra Perkins, became strained after the birth of their daughter, family and friends say.

Belcher, 25, fatally shot Perkins, 22, Saturday and then drove to a stadium parking lot where he committed suicide in front of two coaches and the team's general manager, leading many to wonder what went wrong in Belcher's promising young life.

Perkins’ friends and family described a fraught relationship, though Belcher's family said outsiders can't really know what was going on between them.

The night before she was killed, Perkins went to a Trey Songz concert with some friends "to take a break," Lynell Diggs, a friend who was with her told Newsday.

"He [Belcher] didn't want her going out with the baby at home," said Diggs.

PFT: Coach says he 'wasn't able to reach the young man'

According to police reports, Belcher and Perkins were arguing around 7 a.m. on Saturday. Also at their home was Belcher's mother, who was visiting to help care for their three-month-old daughter, Zoey Michelle.

Around 7:50 a.m., Belcher shot Perkins several times. She was later pronounced dead at a hospital.

Belcher drove 15 minutes to Arrowhead Stadium where he stood in the parking lot and thanked general manager Scott Pioli, head coach Romeo Crennel and linebackers coach Gary Gibbs, for what they had done for him, news reports said. Belcher had played three seasons for the Chiefs and had started in nearly every game.

Then he pulled the trigger.

Angela Perkins, 32, Perkins' cousin, told Newsday that Belcher and Perkins hadn't been getting along for some time. She had visited around the time the baby was born, she said.

She said having a baby and Belcher's busy schedule strained their relationship, according to Newsday.

Ed Zurga / AP

Kansas City Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli, left, and coach Romeo Crennel stand together before an NFL football game against the Carolina Panthers at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Mo. on Sunday, the day after witnessing linebacker Jovan Belcher kill himself.

Perkins' Instagram profile suggested a different story. On Friday, fewer than 24 hours before she died, she posted photos of Belcher smiling and kissing their daughter.

Outside Belcher’s mother’s home Saturday in West Babylon, N.Y., where he grew up and attended high school, friends and family gathered. Jerseys and Letterman jackets had been hung up along the outside of the house. Trophies and photographs lined the ground beneath.

They raised plastic cups to toast Belcher, who was described as quiet, thoughtful, a role model.

Belcher played football in West Babylon but wasn't recruited to play college ball, according to the Boston Globe. Rather, he was a star wrestler who kept trim — 6-foot-2 and under 200 pounds. 

In 2008, Belcher told the Globe: "I do like being the underdog because you can come up and surprise people."

At the University of Maine, Belcher became the team captain and was named national defensive player of the year.

"When he got to campus, he was a phenomenally impressive young man, in how he conducted himself in and around the young men in our program," Maine coach Jack Cosgrove told the Globe at the time. "We were fortunate nobody else recruited him." 

Cosgrove described Belcher's "infectious smile" and said he was a great role model who worked well with children — the football player had been a child development and family relations major.  

MSNBC's Alex Witt talks with The Nation's Dave Zirin about the Kansas City Chiefs playing on Sunday, a day after linebacker Jovan Belcher killed his girlfriend and then himself.

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