Javaris Crittenton never had a chance to establish a reputation in the NBA before he became notorious. He was the other half in one of the most embarassing incidents the Wizards franchise has had to face. An injured, undistinguished player buried on the Wizards’ bench, Crittenton got caught up in the infamous locker-room gun incident with Gilbert Arenas in December 2009 — a situation that led to both players getting suspended from the league for the rest of the season, Arenas spending time in a halfway house, and Crittenton pleading guilty to a misdemeanor gun charge and a year of probation.
Now, nearly 19 months after he pleaded guilty to possession of an unregistered firearm, Crittenton faces a homicide charge in the death of Jullian Jones, a mother of four. Atlanta police allege that Crittenton fired gunshots onto a street in southwest Atlanta from a black Chevy Tahoe. Jones, whose age has been reported either 22 or 23, was struck in the leg and later died during surgery, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
According to the Journal-Constitution, investigators believe that the 23-year-old Crittenton may have been seeking retaliation for a robbery that occurred in April and was attempting to shoot one of the two men who were walking with Jones.
It’s easy to say this is a sad situation, but as a former Crittenton associate put it, it’s “worse than sad.” The latest turn of events is nothing short of tragic, especially for the family of the victim, and for Crittenton, who – if this turns out to be true – clearly has not learned from his past mistakes.
Arenas had an immediate reaction to the news on his Twitter account but has since deleted it. He wrote, “I really wanna say sumthing but I wont becuz theirs a dead women involved…”
While attempting a comeback last year with the Charlotte Bobcats — not only from the gun incident but also a serious ankle injury thta required two surgeries — Crittenton explained during training camp what he had gained from the experience in Washington and appeared to have matured.
“Use wisdom in everything and just don’t get caught up in foolishness and nonsense and crazy people around you,” Crittenton said last October. “It was a bad decision on both ends and we’re trying to move forward with our careers and our lives.”
Charlotte didn’t have room for another point guard and cut Crittenton about two weeks later. He then went to China, before returning to play for the Dakota Wizards of the NBA Development League, hoping for an other opportunity in the NBA that never came — and now might never come.
After his dispute with Arenas, many around the league doubted if the 6-foot-3 point guard with decent speed and inacurrate jumper would ever play in another NBA game. He was a borderline player but the incident tagged Crittenton with the label of a reckless, gun-toting thug, something that went against the reputation he had established among those who had known him from an early age. “He’s a great guy. We grew up together,” Crittenton’s high school teammate, Dwight Howard, said when describing him back then.
When the Los Angeles Lakers drafted him in the first round of the 2007 NBA draft, Crittenton was viewed as a polite, mature kid whose only major blunder was perhaps leaving school too early. Crittenton had made it out of inner-city Atlanta, using his athletic gifts to provide him with opportunities for a better life. He had a 3.5 grade point average at Southwest Atlanta Christian Academy — where he passed Howard as the school’s all-time leading scorer — before holding his own academically during one year at Georgia Tech.
After his initial legal troubles, Crittenton’s college coach, Paul Hewitt, said he was stunned. “Him being involved in something like that is not something I would have suspected coming out of high school or when he was with us,” Hewitt, now the head coach at George Mason, said in January 2010.
Crittenton initially lied to Wizards officials about having a gun, and — despite Arenas’s consistent claims that he wasn’t the only player with firearms in the locker room — never admitted that he had the weapon until he turned himself in to accept a plea agreement. Problems had begun to develop for Crittenton before the gun incident, as he had suffered a foot injury that required two surgeries and then parted ways with his agent, Wallace Prather Jr., who had been a longtime family friend.
The comment you always heard after the locker-room incident was that it was fortunate that no one was hurt. But this latest incident has resulted in a young woman losing her life – and four young children losing their mother – and Crittenton possibly taking his notoriety to even lower depths.