NBA Player Charged with Murdering a Woman in Atlanta

By By Dr. Boyce Watkins, Your Black World
Updated: August 28, 2011

Javaris Crittenton

Javaris Crittenton

SYRACUSE, NY—Former NBA player Javaris Crittenton has been charged with murder after a woman in Atlanta was shot in the street. Crittenton, who once played for the Washington Wizards, was the other player involved in a gun incident with NBA star Gilbert Arenas.

Police have secured a warrant for Crittenton’s arrest for the shooting of 22-year old Jullian Jones on August 19. Police spokesman Carlos Campos said that Crittenton is not in custody at the moment, and is on their wanted list.

Atlanta Police Major Keith Meadows said that Crittenton is believed to be in Los Angeles at this time. The FBI is also involved in the investigation.

The deceased Ms. Jones is the mother of four children. She was walking down the street when she was shot by someone in an SUV. Police say they don’t believe that Jones was the intended target, and that the shooting was in retaliation for a robbery that occurred in April.

Crittenton’s NBA career has been on the decline since playing for the Washington Wizards. He is currently playing for the Dakota Wizards of the National Basketball Developmental League, but was sidelined last season due to an ankle injury. The NBA gave him a 38-game suspension after he and Arenas acknowledged bringing guns into the locker room. He was the 19th overall pick by the LA Lakers in 2007.

We all have to take a moment of pause when we hear about the unfortunate effects of gun violence in our communities. While we know that Crittenton is likely more confused than other young men (if he was, in fact, guilty of this crime), there are lessons all of us can learn from Crittenton’s poor choices in the past.

The lesson that jumps to mind is one in which we tell young men engaged in athletic achievement that making good life decisions is far more important than anything you’ll ever do on the court or the field. Far too many young men with amazing athletic gifts seem to think that the prestige and popularity earned from athletic endeavors supersedes the need to be responsible in other areas of life.

A large number of “our” athletes choose to remain chronically uneducated, financially reckless, sexually irresponsible, and deeply engaged in massive consumption of drugs and alcohol. All of these choices form the recipe for self-destruction after the basketball or football career is over – in fact, if I hear another story about an athlete being shot, getting into a fight or getting arrested at the club, I am going to jump out a damn window. By not speaking up to our sons, friends (and in the case of women, their boyfriends) and properly chastising them for embracing such a counter productive culture, we are effectively enabling this behavior ourselves.

In spite of all the lights, glamour and glory, there’s not always a big distance between the NBA playoffs and a jail cell, and a long list of athletes have learned this lesson the hard way. The brilliance, discipline and determination being shown in sports does not always translate to off-the-court activities, and we’ve got to abandon this negative and destructive culture.

Dr. Boyce Watkins is a Professor at Syracuse University and founder of the Your Black World Coalition.