When Reed and Kimbrough went to trial, Nellum had to see. He went to the preliminary hearing and the sentencing.
"I wanted to know why, what was the story," he says. "They walked in, two black guys, wearing blue prison suits. I looked them in the eye. I wanted to rip their heads off their shoulders. They looked back. I think I saw sorrow, some regret."
Reed and Kimbrough were each sentenced to 15 years in prison for attempted murder. USC students, and the general track community, lit up Internet message boards in indignation over perceived leniency.
Nellum looked the past in the face and ended up on an Olympic medal stand. That could have been the answer, the grand finale. But Nellum runs on, scar tissue and all.
He stayed at USC after the Olympics, with a one-year eligibility extension from the NCAA. He got his degree in public administration and kept competing, working toward a master's degree.
Saturday is the USC-UCLA dual meet at the Trojans' Cromwell Field, and he'll be one of the stars.
Then there will be the Pac-12 meet, the NCAA meet and qualifying for the World Championships in Moscow in August. After the NCAA competition, he will be a pro, able to collect endorsements and appearance fees on the lucrative European track circuit, where, unlike the U.S., the sport still flourishes.
He may try pro football. He may focus on the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
"I'm still climbing," says the man who turns 24 on May 1 and is lucky to be walking.