Former Wizards player Javaris Crittenton was formally charged with murder on Tuesday in his home city of Atlanta. The indictment stems from the August 2011 killing of a mother in Atlanta, in which Crittenton allegedly opened fire on the woman as retaliation for being robbed for his personal belongings a short time before.
The nature of Crittenton’s crime is staggering. Following the August 2011 murder, a few individuals from his past, including his former coach Paul Hewitt, remarked on how stunned they were that such a seemingly nice person could be linked to such a heinous crime.
Crittenton’s indictment is the latest blow in his precipitous fall since being involved in the infamous gun incident with Gilbert Arenas, which arguably ruined both players’ careers. While Arenas was able to re-gain some of his playing form, Crittenton slid from his 2010 suspension into relative obscurity, save a brief stint with the Memphis Grizzlies.
At the time of the incident, the Wizards organization was rumored to be more concerned about consequences involving Crittenton than they were with Arenas. While Arenas may have been taking a lighthearted approach, many believed that Crittenton, due to his purported affiliation, could have caused a true stir.
Crittenton has been tied to the Crips, a Los Angeles-based gang, for the past several years. He allegedly joined the Crips for protection after being drafted by the Lakers in 2007.
During the 2008 playoffs, Paul Pierce of the Boston Celtics was fined $25,000 for flashing what appeared to be a gang sign during a playoff game with the Atlanta Hawks. NBA Commissioner David Stern was disturbed by the action, flagging it is inflammatory and “menacing”, but Pierce flatly denied such claims.
"I one hundred percent do not in any way promote gang violence or anything close to it," Pierce said. "I am sorry if it was misinterpreted that way at Saturday's game."
Former Celtics and current Milwaukee Bucks player Marquis Daniels faced similar gang accusations in 2010 when social network pictures showed him posing with a red bandana making gang signs. Daniels also was seen replacing the letter “c” in his typed words with a letter “k”, a common display of disrespect to rival Crips. Similar to Pierce, Daniels vehemently denied any sort of affiliation; however, circumstantial evidence to the contrary appeared strong.
The case of Crittenton, as well as Pierce and Daniels highlight a trend in professional sports that deserves more scrutiny. What may have initially been a remote issue now demands more attention and safeguarding from teams’ player personnel departments. This commands a necessary step, too, in vetting draft prospects.
Crittenton’s trial date has not yet been set. He maintains his innocence.