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Calgary receiver continues to play through grief following brother's murder

CALGARY - The loss of a loved one can make football seem not very important. But Stampeders receiver Joe West says football is getting him through a tough week before he heads home for his brother's funeral.

West will play in Monday's Labour Day game against the Edmonton Eskimos before he departs for Garland, Texas.

Just hours after learning his half-brother Brandon Hobdy was murdered in Arkansas, West had four catches totalling 129 yards in last week's win over Ottawa.

Football has been a welcome, albeit temporary, distraction from his grief.

"It's been something else to think about, just keeping my mind occupied," West said Sunday.

"This is such an important obstacle in my life right now, having to balance my profession and my personal life. It's pretty tough, but I have really good support from my teammates and coaches."

Hobdy, a 23-year-old receiver at South Arkansas University, was shot just outside Magnolia in the early hours of Aug. 24.

West chose to play that afternoon in Ottawa and was named the CFL's offensive player of the week for his performance, which included a 58-yard catch in the third quarter.

West, 30, was born in Melbourne, Fla., but played high school and college ball in Texas. He's in his third season with the Stampeders. West and Hobdy have the same mother, Loretta.

The funeral is Saturday in Garland, so West will miss Calgary's rematch with the Eskimos in Edmonton.

As West was en route back to Calgary from Ottawa, SAU held a candlelight vigil for Hobdy. A Magnolia bank has set up a trust fund in Hobdy's name.

Two men have been arrested and charged in connection with the shooting death of Hobdy and another victim, 24-year-old Walter Payton.

West participated in team meetings during the week, but didn't practise with his teammates until Friday.

"Last week was tough dealing with that, but I had teammates that really hurt for me," West said. "Family is so much to me. As I was out there on the field, I knew my brother was with me. I will forever feel that, as I play professional sports and walk this road of life.

"He's in a better place and that's something I'm going to have to understand and accept and it's going to take time."

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