Rugby Player Rowan Baxter Stalked Wife, Tracked Phone Before Murder-Suicide

Breaking News

8:31 AM PT -- 2/20 The parents of Baxter's estranged wife say the rugby player was in a "downward spiral" prior to the murder-suicide ... claiming it all started when Hannah left Baxter after 11 years of marriage.

The parents detail Hannah's relationship with Baxter, saying he was controlling and abusive ... and believe he hacked Hannah's phone so he could track her every move.

The parents question how Baxter was able to get so close to Hannah during the attack ... explaining he wasn't allowed within 65 feet of her following a recent assault, and there's no way she would have allowed him to come close.

A former pro-Australian rugby player murdered his wife and 3 young children in an apparent murder-suicide ... according to law enforcement officials in Australia.

42-year-old Rowan Baxter -- who played for the New Zealand Warriors in the National Rugby League (NRL) -- was found in his car early Wednesday morning along with his wife, 2 young daughters and his son. The kids were aged 6, 4 and 3.

Officials believe Baxter doused the car with gasoline and set it on fire. Witnesses say they saw Baxter's wife trying to escape the car while yelling, "He's poured petrol on me."

Emergency responders raced to the scene -- and Baxter's wife was transported to a nearby hospital ... but she ultimately succumbed to her injuries. Emergency responders also reportedly tried to revive Rowan, but he was declared dead.

Police say Rowan's wife had been driving the car and he was sitting in the front passenger seat.

A Good Samaritan who tried to help the family was also hospitalized with facial burns, according to local media.

Scott Morrison -- the Prime Minister of Australia -- has issued a statement about the situation saying, "My heart goes out to the families and community going through this tragic time and the emergency responders confronting what would be a shattering scene."

Rowan and his wife had been running a fitness company called Integr8 in Brisbane. They reportedly separated late last year and were trying to hammer out custody arrangements.

Baxter stayed around the game after his playing career was over, working as a fitness coach for teams in NRL, Super Rugby and the Australian Football League.

Originally published -- 2/19 6:54 AM PT

Nascar's Ryan Newman Released from Hospital ... Walks Out with 2 Daughters!!!

Breaking News
STRONGER TOGETHER

10:47 AM PT -- EVEN MORE GREAT NEWS!!! Newman was just officially released from the hospital and walked out of the building with his 2 daughters by his side! Amazing!!!

2/19 -- MORE GREAT NEWS -- here's a pic of Ryan Newman SMILING with his daughters in his hospital room ... proof he continues to make great progress in his recovery after that scary Daytona 500 crash.

Also worth noting ... Newman appears to be STANDING in the photo -- which is another great sign.

"Ryan Newman continues to show great improvement after Monday night's last-lap accident at Daytona International Speedway," Roush Fenway Racing says.

"The veteran driver is fully alert and walking around Halifax Medical Center. True to his jovial nature, he has also been joking around with staff, friends and family while spending time playing with his two daughters."

12:55 PM PT -- 2/18 -- Great news about the health of Ryan Newman -- he's awake and talking, his racing team confirms.

Roush Fenway Racing says, "Ryan Newman remains under the care of doctors at Halifax Medical Center in Daytona Beach, Florida. He is awake and speaking with family and doctors."

"Ryan and his family have expressed their appreciation for the concern and heartfelt messages from across the country."

"They are grateful for the unwavering support of the NASCAR community and beyond."

7:15 PM PT -- President Trump -- who was at the Daytona 500 on Sunday -- just tweeted support for the NASCAR driver, saying ... "Praying for Ryan Newman, a great driver and a brave @NASCAR driver! #PrayingForRyan"

7:06 PM PT -- NASCAR just announced Newman is in "serious condition" ... but noted doctors say his injuries are "non-life threatening."

NASCAR driver Ryan Newman is in a Florida hospital after his car wrecked in a super-scary crash on the final lap of the Daytona 500 ... and video from the crash is INSANE.

As you can see ... Newman's car flips several times as it hurtles through the air, eventually catching fire, spinning onto the infield and crossing the finish line on its roof. Somewhat surprisingly, no other drivers were injured in the crash.

Newman was rushed to a local hospital ... but his current condition remains unclear.

It's pretty crazy ... Ryan was trying to hold on to the lead when his car was nudged by Ryan Blaney and hit the wall on the final lap of the weather-delayed race

Denny Hamlin ended up winning the first race of the NASCAR season, while Newman was credited with a fourth-place finish.

Originally Published -- 2/17 5:38 PM PT

H.S. Hockey Insane On-Ice Brawl ... Players Violently Launched Into Boards

Breaking News

H.S. hockey players in Illinois turned themselves into human missiles over the weekend, launching their bodies at each other in a wild brawl ... and footage of the fight is insane.

Evanston's varsity squad was facing off with Lake Forest on Saturday at a local college rink in the Chicago area ... when a fight broke out and escalated IN A HURRY.

You can see in the video ... there's pushing and shoving. At one point, a Lake Forest player LAUNCHED himself into an Evanston player ... who crashed head first into the boards.

Later in the fight, ANOTHER Lake Forest player did the same thing ... violently throwing his body at the pile and sending two Evanston players crashing to the ice.

In another angle of the scrap ... you can see the massive magnitude of the brawl -- with haymakers, wrestling and pulling going down all over the rink.

Eventually, order was restored ... but it's unclear if any injuries were suffered. It's also unclear what started the melee. We reached out to reps from both programs, but so far, no word back yet.

In a bulletin post on Evanston's website Tuesday ... an official wrote, "Dear All - please do not share photos or videos from last weekend's game."

"It exemplifies bad behavior that is not indicative of our club. It was an unfortunate end to the last game of the season, so it's best to leave it behind. Thanks for your compliance."

Kandi Burruss 3 Shot at Her Restaurant ... She Responds

Breaking News
AP

5:32 PM PT -- Kandi Burrus has spoken out about the shooting at her restaurant, and it sounds like she's pretty devastated about it.

Waiting for your permission to load the Instagram Media.

She says she sends her thoughts and prayers to the individuals affected, going on to say ... "As African-American business owners, it has been our goal to invest in our community by bringing jobs, quality dining, and a positive experience to the greater Atlanta area; we hope that you know and understand that the acts of violence that occurred yesterday evening do not, in any way, serve as a reflection of OLG or its values."

Kandi ended her post by encouraging anyone with relevant information to reach out to law enforcement.

Three people were shot outside Kandi Burruss' Georgia restaurant, and it appears cops know the identity of the culprit.

It happened Friday night at around 8 PM. A man walked into the Old Lady Gang restaurant in East Point and began firing.

A police official said the shooting was not random. Based on the police statement, it appears a man who was shot inside was the target, and then 2 other people with no connection were also hit.

Police are on the hunt for the suspect, but they say they don't have a motive.

Chaos erupted at the restaurant, which is just outside Atlanta. Kandi and her husband, Todd Tucker, own Old Lady Gang ... a popular eatery that features Southern cuisine.

Originally Published -- 6:56 AM PT

Robert Pattinson Testing, Testing ... I'm The Batman!!!

Robert Pattinson is officially moving on from his "Twilight" vampire days and heading to the Batcave ... here he is for the first time as Batman!!!

The actor's new role as The Dark Knight was just revealed for the first time by "The Batman" director Matt Reeves in a 45-second camera test ... in which Pattinson slowly comes into focus in a dark room lit by red light.

As he steps forward to show off the Batsuit, an ominous score by composer Michael Giacchino builds to a crescendo before going black. Gotta say, it's pretty badass.

The latest reboot for the Caped Crusader series from Warner Bros. was actively pursued by Pattinson, who says he kept prodding Reeves once he learned he was attached as director ... and managed to land the iconic role.

Reeves is known for directing "Cloverfield" and 2 "Planet of the Apes" films.

“The Batman” is set to debut on June 25, 2021. Mark your calendars.

Kobe Bryant Crash Investigation No Evidence of Engine Failure

The NTSB says an initial investigation into the Kobe Bryant helicopter crash shows no outward evidence of engine failure.

The National Transportation Safety Board released preliminary findings into the Jan. 26 crash saying it appears the engine was working at the time of the crash because there was a cut tree branch at the crash scene.

The NTSB report says the helicopter's instrument panel was completely destroyed in the wreckage.

The main wreckage was 127 feet from the impact site -- and that's where investigators found both engines, the entire fuselage, portions of the cockpit instrument panel and other key pieces of the aircraft.

According to the report, the pilot's final transmission to the Southern California Terminal Radar Approach Control (SCT) was to let the controller know he was trying to climb to 4,000 feet to get above the thick fog/cloud layer.

However, radar data collected by investigators shows the aircraft only reached 2,300 feet before trying to make a left turn. Eight seconds later the aircraft began descending (while trying to turn) at a VERY high rate of speed, dropping at rate of 4,000 feet per minute before crashing into the mountain.

As we reported ... NTSB officials said Kobe's Sikorsky S-76 chopper was NOT equipped with a terrain awareness and warning system (TAWS), nor was it outfitted with a flight data recorder (FDR) or cockpit voice recorder (CVR).

GOING THROUGH THE WRECKAGE
NTSB

In the seconds prior to crashing, the pilot, Ara Zoboyan, took the helicopter from 1,200 feet to 2,000 feet within a matter of seconds. It appeared he cleared one hillside, only to strike the next when it crashed at about 1700 feet. Photos taken by a mountain biker on a nearby trail show the intensity of the crash.

In the days following the crash, a team of NTSB investigators combed the crash site ... rummaging through debris. The agency released drone footage showing most of the aircraft in tiny pieces.

All of the parts were shipped to Arizona, where the NTSB reassembled the aircraft.

THE SCENE OF THE CRASH
AP

The NTSB says it will release its final report in 12 to 18 months. That one is expected to include findings, recommendations and probable cause for the crash.

As we told you, the NTSB says back in 2006 it recommended the FAA require all helicopters carrying 6 or more passengers to have TAWS, and for all rotorcraft to have an FDR and CVR. The FAA didn't mandate either.

All 8 passengers -- Kobe, his daughter, Gianna, John Altobelli, Keri Altobelli, Alyssa Altobelli, Sarah Chester, Payton Chester, Christina Mauser -- and the pilot were killed in the crash.

Gervonta Davis Arrested for Domestic Violence ... Allegedly Struck Woman In Face

Breaking News

7:41 AM PT -- TMZ Sports has obtained the police report in which cops say they have surveillance footage which appears to show Davis striking the victim in the face, causing injuries.

The report says Davis dragged the woman off the floor of the celeb game to a separate room -- all while grabbing her shirt with his hand close to her throat.

When they got to the backroom, cops say video shows Davis "pulling his arm back and then forward towards the victim, which is consistent with a strike to the face where the victim sustained injuries to her lip and left jaw."

Cops say the woman cooperated with police and provided a written statement saying she was attacked by Davis. She also allowed police to take photos of her injuries.

Gervonta Davis has been arrested for domestic violence for roughing up his ex-girlfriend at a celebrity basketball game in Florida, cops confirm.

The boxing superstar -- currently the WBA lightweight champion -- surrendered to the Coral Gables PD on Tuesday for the Feb. 1 incident.

Cops say the 25-year-old is facing one count of "simple battery domestic violence."

As we previously reported, Davis was seen grabbing and ripping his ex-girlfriend -- the mother of his child -- out of her seat during a heated altercation at the game.

The argument continued backstage.

Cops say, "As a result of an ongoing investigation after being notified through social media and the victim, on Feb. 1 2020, [Davis] was observed battering his former girlfriend whom [sic] have child together."

"[Davis] surrendered himself, to the Coral Gables Police detectives assigned to the case."

For his part, Davis put out a statement over the weekend denying striking the woman.

"I never once hit her ... yeah I was aggressive and told her come on," Davis said.

"That's the mother of my child. I would never hurt her."

Davis is a rising superstar in the boxing world -- he's Floyd Mayweather's protege and has racked up an impressive 23-0 record as a pro with victories over guys like Yuriorkis Gamboa and José Pedraza.

Davis has had a BUNCH of legal issues over the years -- he was arrested for assault back in 2017 after allegedly punching a friend. The charge was later dropped.

He was arrested again in 2018 for a street fight in Washington D.C.

IN CUFFS
TMZSports.com

Originally published -- 2/4 1:46 PM PT

Rush Limbaugh Advanced Lung Cancer Diagnosis ... Will Take Time Off

Breaking News
Getty

Rush Limbaugh's sharing some sobering news -- he says he's just been diagnosed lung cancer, and it's in an advanced stage.

The iconic conservative firebrand host made the shocking announcement Monday during his radio program. After revealing his diagnosis, Rush said his scheduled cancer treatments will mean taking time off from his show. He admitted there will be times when he just physically won't be able to host due to the treatments.

He was not specific about how doctors plan to attack the cancer.

THE SAD NEWS
Rush Limbaugh Show

Rush says he first noticed something was wrong on his 69th birthday last month, so he went for some tests and learned his diagnosis. He says he thought about not telling anyone but didn't want to set off rumors when he started missing shows.

Rush, who started his radio career in the 1970s, says he's going to keep working as long as he can.

He closed his show Monday by telling his legion of loyal listeners ... "Every day I'm not here I'll be thinking about you and missing you."

Jeff Bezos I'm $13 Billion Richer!!! Made it in Minutes Too

Breaking News
TMZ.com

Jeff Bezos just added BILLIONS to his massive fortune -- which is nothing new for him, but what's new this time ... it only took a few strokes of the clock to make that increase.

Stock for the Amazon honcho's company surged 12 percent in a matter of 15 minutes Thursday afternoon, which equaled an astounding 11-digit increase to his bottom line.

The astronomical math? Bloomberg says Jeff added $13.2 BILLION just from the surge, which raises his net worth to about $129.5 billion. Forbes was a wee bit more modest, reporting Bezos added $12.8 billion to his portfolio, with a new net worth of $128.9 billion.

Either way ... ya get the point. Bill Gates feels like a panhandler right now.

On an even grander scale -- the stock boost pushed Amazon's market cap north of $1 TRILLION!!! That's a lot of zeroes.

Oh, and Bill ... JK, buddy. The world's second-richest man is still worth about $110.8 billion. Said another way ... about one Laurene Powell Jobs (Steve's widow) less than Bezos.

Damn, these people are rich!!!

L.A. High-Rise Fire Residents Hanging on for Life ... Daring Rescues by Land & Air

MOMENT OF RESCUE
TMZ.com

Firefighters are pulling off daring rescues from a 25-story high-rise inferno in Los Angeles ... where several residents are trapped by the smoke and flames.

Helicopters and fire trucks are swarming around the building near L.A.'s Brentwood neighborhood. Flames are billowing out of the 6th floor, and at least one man was clinging to the side of the building ... waiting for firefighters to reach him.

HELP FROM ABOVE
BACKGRID

They eventually did get to him as they extended a rescue ladder up to the 6th floor. Other residents made it to the roof, where rescuers dangling from helicopters were able to airlift them to safety.

The fire is raging in the apartment building that was reportedly constructed in 1961, and does NOT have a sprinkler system. It also has a dangerous track record ... another fire broke out there in 2013, and 5 people were hospitalized with injuries back then.

Space X Spectacular Space Flight!!! ... To Test Astronaut-Worthy Rocket

Breaking News
BLASTOFF
Space X

SpaceX had a great day Sunday ... its Crew Dragon spacecraft performed flawlessly in a maneuver critical to manned space flight.

The Falcon 9 rocket blasted off at Kennedy Space Center in Florida at around 10:30 AM ET.  The point of the unmanned mission ... to test the in-flight abort system. 84 seconds into the flight, when the spacecraft is 60,000 feet above mother Earth, the mission gets scrubbed and the rocket separates from the crew capsule, propelling it at warp speed away from the rocket.

It worked flawlessly, and it was a beautiful sight.

The crew capsule came down in about 10 minutes, parachuting safely to Earth so the folks at SpaceX in Hawthorne can study the data.

Elon Musk and co. are expected to send an astronaut into space sometime this year.

Conor McGregor I'm Gonna Kill Cowboy Cerrone ... With Kindness

Breaking News
NO BAD BLOOD
UFC

Conor McGregor ain't exactly spewing venom -- he's complimenting the hell outta Cowboy Cerrone ... in what might be the NICEST press conference he's ever been in.

Not only did Conor arrive 15 minutes EARLY for the event (super unusual for McGregor) ... but when the opportunity presented itself to trash talk, he didn't launch the missiles he fired at guys like Khabib Nurmagomedov and Floyd Mayweather.

Instead, Conor praised Cowboy as a real accomplished fighter, a worthy opponent and an all-around good dude.

"Although there will be blood spilled on January 18th, it will not be bad blood," Conor said.

McGregor still predicted a knockout victory at the Palms Casino Resort ... but in the nicest way possible.

Conor was also asked if he was worried about getting banned from the United States due to his legal issues over the years, but the Irishman said he's all good and how grateful he is for the U.S.

McGregor also said he's cut out booze in preparations for the fight ... which means no beloved Proper 12.

Conor and Cowboy are set to throw down on Saturday night at UFC 246 at the T-Mobile Arena in Vegas (only available on ESPN+) ... that's when the compliments will end.

As for Cowboy, he returned the love!!!

"I'm looking forward to 4-5 rounds of battle with this man ... Conor's one of the last dying breeds of the last fighters, so it's good to be in there with him and really get in there and f**king give it all we got."

"So, yeah man, I'm going 5 rounds with this dude and I can't f**king wait 'til Saturday night."

The presser was a nice fest ... and even had a Chad Johnson appearance!!!

PLACE YOUR BETS
UFC

No, seriously ... the ex-NFL star put on his journalist hat with Bleacher Report and asked a question!!!

The guys even shared a moment over their style -- Conor complimented Cowboy's python suit and both fighters bonded over PETA coming after them.

Oh ... and both fighters have said this won't be a grapple-fest -- they wanna stand and bang!

Red Sox '18 World Series Won Fair & Square Despite Alex Cora Scandal

Breaking News
Getty

11:48 AM PT -- 1/15 -- The Red Sox just held a press conference to discuss Cora's departure ... saying the manager understood he made a mistake and what he did was wrong.

The Sox honchos present at the presser -- including John Henry, Tom Werner and more -- say they did not know of Cora's involvement until the investigation report was made public on Monday.

The Sox did not comment on the current investigation into the team ... but team president Sam Kennedy said Boston's 2018 World Series was won fair and square.

WILL BE MISSED
Boston Red Sox

Alex Cora is OUT as the Boston Red Sox manager ... after both sides "mutually agreed to part ways" in light of the MLB's cheating probe.

The league's investigation findings determined Cora was the mastermind behind the Houston Astros' sign-stealing system when he was the bench coach in 2017.

Cora was with the 'Stros when they won the World Series in 2017 ... and the manager of the Red Sox when they won the Fall Classic in 2018.

The 44-year-old manager had yet to receive his punishment from the league for the scandal ... but given the fact Astros manager, A.J. Hinch, was suspended 1 year just for knowing about it, it was assumed Cora would get much worse.

The Sox didn't wait to find out Cora's fate ... releasing a statement Tuesday explaining their decision to move on.

"Today we met to discuss the Commissioner's report related to the Houston Astros investigation," the statement reads.

"Given the findings and the Commissioner's ruling, we collectively decided that it would not be possible for Alex to effectively lead the club going forward and we mutually agreed to part ways."

Australian Open Player Quits Match After Coughing, Falling Due To Smoke-Filled Air

Breaking News

Slovenian tennis pro Dalila Jakupovic was forced to quit her qualifying match at the Australian Open on Tuesday ... after she coughed and collapsed to the court due to the air quality.

Of course, the air in Melbourne is currently considered "the worst in the world" as smoke from the wildfires has taken over the area.

Despite the chief health officer saying the air was very poor or hazardous, the qualifying round of the tournament kicked off on Tuesday ... and several players have complained about the conditions already.

Jakupovic was in the middle of the second set of her match against Stefanie Vogele when she started coughing uncontrollably and went to her knees.

“I was really scared that I would collapse," the 28-year-old said ... adding that it was unfair for players to have to play in the current conditions.

"I never had breathing problems. I actually like heat," Jakupovic added. "I just couldn't breathe anymore and I just fell on the floor."

Other tennis pros needed assistance during their matches ... including Genie Bouchard and Bernard Tomic.

As for the status of the remainder of the tourney ... organizers say they will monitor the situation before making any decisions but can possibly move things indoors.

Cavaliers' John Beilein Sorry For Calling Players 'Thugs' ... I Meant 'Slugs'

Breaking News
Getty

Cavaliers coach John Beilein was forced to apologize to his players Wednesday after he says he accidentally called them "thugs" during a team meeting.

Here's the deal ... the 66-year-old was reportedly praising his Cleveland squad during a film session when he told them they were no longer "playing like a bunch of thugs."

Obviously, the term has an offensive connotation ... and, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, players were "stunned" by their head coach's comment.

But, Beilein attempted to clear the air after Cavs general manager Koby Altman brought the situation to his attention ... with the coach saying he meant to say "slugs," not "thugs."

"I didn't realize that I had said the word 'thugs,' but my staff told me later I did and so I must have said it," Beilein told Wojnarowski on Wednesday night. "I meant to say slugs, as in slow-moving. We weren't playing hard before, and now we were playing harder. I meant it as a compliment."

Beilein said he already had personally talked to eight of his players over the alleged mix-up, adding, "they are telling me that they understand."

It's been a rough start to Beilein's NBA coaching career ... after being hired this past offseason, the ex-Michigan coach has struggled to adapt to the pros.

He's just 10-27 this season ... and has reportedly riffed with team star Kevin Love throughout his short tenure in Cleveland.

The Cavs play for the first time since the comments Thursday night in Detroit against the Pistons.

Terrell Owens Cowboys Should Dump Dak Prescott ... FOR TOM BRADY!!!

Breaking News
THE NEXT BIG STAR
Joe, Lo, and Dibs on 95.7 The Game

Terrell Owens says now that the Dallas Cowboys have fired Jason Garrett ... they only need to do 1 more thing to get back to Super Bowl glory -- DITCH DAK FOR TOM BRADY!!!

TO made the shocking statement on the "Joe, Lo & Dibs" show on 95.7 The Game on Tuesday ... claiming Jerry Jones is just one TB12 away from getting Dallas its 6th ring.

"They have a quarterback that's a free agent in Tom Brady. That's the next move."

Owens says he has a rationale behind his wild thinking ... saying the fact that Prescott STILL doesn't have a contract speaks volumes to the way Jerry Jones feels about the QB.

"He hasn't extended Dak's contract. So, that leads me to believe he truly doesn't believe in Dak. If he had, then I think he would have already got a contract extension."

Of course, Owens' recommendation to Jerry will probably never go down ... Dak seems destined for the franchise tag this offseason, while Tom would likely retire before leaving New England to play in Dallas.

But, if it DOES somehow happen ... just call Terrell "Owenstradamus" -- 'cause the dude says he's already been great at predictions -- saying he forecast the Mike McCarthy hire first!!!

Old news is old news!
Be First!

Get TMZ breaking news sent right to your browser!