Javaris Crittenton: From budding star to murder suspect

Javaris Crittenton on the night he was drafted by the Lakers. (AJC file photo)

Javaris Crittenton on the night he was drafted by the Los Angeles Lakers. (AJC file photo)

We pause to consider the arc of a young life.

• In 2004 Javaris Crittenton — a sophomore and already a team captain — teams with Dwight Howard to lead Southwest Atlanta Christian to the Class A title.

• In 2006 Crittenton graduates from high school — where he’d been a 3.5 student and a member of both the Beta Club and the Future Business Leaders of America — and enrolls at Georgia Tech.

• In 2007 he exits Tech after a good-but-not great freshman season and is taken by the Los Angeles Lakers with the 19th pick of the NBA draft.

• In January 2010 he pleads guilty to a misdemeanor charge resulting from the infamous guns-in-the-locker-room that involved Crittenton and Washington Wizards teammate Gilbert Arenas, who on Christmas Eve engaged in an argument regarding gambling debts. Both players are suspended by the NBA for the rest of the season.

• On Aug. 26, 2011, a warrant is issued for Crittenton’s arrest. The charge: murder.

Maybe you’re clever enough to have foreseen this path. I’m not. Yeah, I thought Crittenton was a gifted player who left school a year too soon. The same could be said of his Tech classmate Thaddeus Young, and Young has done nicely with the Philadelphia 76ers. Lots of guys leave too soon. Some of them make it anyway.

And it’s not as if warning lights flashed at every turn. Crittenton attended one high school for four years, which isn’t always the contemporary norm. He played alongside Howard, who jumped directly to the NBA and has become one of the five best players in the world. Crittenton’s summers were spent playing AAU ball with the Atlanta Celtics, a program that boasts a long list of distinguished alums. He signed with Tech, a proud program in the high-minded ACC. He was drafted by the Lakers, the NBA’s best organization.

And yet: This gifted young player was gone from the NBA in three years, having worked his way through four organizations. He was cut last October by the Charlotte Bobcats. He played five games with a team in China and spent the winter with the Dakota Wizards, the Bismarck-based franchise in the NBA Development League, averaging 14.5 points and 6.7 assists.

That’s the basketball part of it. I’m not sure how much basketball has to do with this homicide warrant. (And here we stipulate that Crittenton is innocent until proved guilty.) You can tut-tut and say, “Oh, it’s the system of entitlement that leads to guns in the locker room,” but I’ve hung around the NBA for more than a quarter-century, and I’ve never seen a gun in a locker room.

The gun-related suspension should have been a lesson. Nineteen months later, Crittenton is wanted for allegedly having loosed the shots from an SUV that took the life of a young woman who happened to be in the line of fire. (Police believe Crittenton saw someone who’d stolen jewelry from him earlier this year.)

At such a distressing moment, it would be convenient to blame basketball for the wrong turns in Crittenton’s 23-year-old life. But there’s free will involved in every life, is there not? He has had role models. He was around successful people and winning programs. He was a good student who was thought to have leadership qualities. And he had, owing to having been a Round 1 draftee, a guaranteed contract.

Give some people those circumstances and they’d make the most of them. Crittenton has made the least. (His profile on Twitter bore this greeting: “Say hello to the bad guy!” The account was apparently deleted Friday night.) It’s never surprising when a good young player doesn’t grow into an NBA All-Star — not many do — but it is shocking when you read the AJC.com headline, “Former Georgia Tech star wanted for fatal shooting.”

Had he stayed four years at Tech, Crittenton would have just finished his NBA rookie season. That’s not an excuse for anything, nor is it an explanation. It wasn’t some “system” that caused a young woman’s death. It was a choice made by one person to raise a gun and pull its trigger. Yes, it’s possible that person wasn’t Javaris Crittenton. The warrant does, however, bear his name.

By Mark Bradley

109 comments Add your comment

KenDawg

August 27th, 2011
12:38 pm

Sad – but first?

Mark Bradley

August 27th, 2011
12:39 pm

Kudos, KenDawg.

Delbert D.

August 27th, 2011
12:41 pm

Seeking revenge while carrying a gun is a bad idea.

Fan of Good Coaches

August 27th, 2011
12:41 pm

Tragic for so many reasons…the young woman who was killed left 4 children according to reports….their lives are forever changed….Crittenden will turn 24 on Dec. 31, which means he left Tech at age 19…one can wonder how his life might have been different if he had stayed in college and graduated….perhaps he would have made better decisions…

[...] as a huge shock. Crittenton was a former captain of his high school team while accruing a …Javaris Crittenton: From budding star to murder suspectAtlanta Journal Constitution (blog)Javaris Crittenton, Former NBA Guard, Charged with MurderThe [...]

Nativebird

August 27th, 2011
12:49 pm

Nice summary of facts, the arc, the timeline, the results of a life, career obviously astray; and tradgedy of a young women’s death. Conversely, why the jump to the defense of “all NBA” players? I’ve seen no broad sweep of judgement about this. I’ve seen no sterotype attack about this? have you? Appears you’ve jumped the gun so to speak a little early (pun apologies)….are we maybe ‘expecting’ a broad charge of gangsterism is it? Can we not wait until it happens before we defend what we ‘think’ might be assumed?

CPJ Disciple

August 27th, 2011
12:53 pm

Definitely puts a dent in the Paul Hewitt was a great recruiter defense argument…

ratherBgambling

August 27th, 2011
12:54 pm

Lifes ruined over jewerly. Very sad.

[...] Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog) [...]

MWC

August 27th, 2011
12:55 pm

You never know….

Jcard120

August 27th, 2011
12:57 pm

Sad story of another gifted athlete without the proper guidance to succeed as an adult. Why in the world would you jeopardize the life every athlete dreams of to commit murder?

teamsparkssgc

August 27th, 2011
12:59 pm

Living in the struggle, and to have the blessing to overcome it is Gods will. To loose focus is showing that the devil is working. What’s next?

dan the nerd

August 27th, 2011
1:07 pm

A sad day for GT. My heart and prayers go out to the family of the victim.

Grandmaster JeJe

August 27th, 2011
1:08 pm

final score > total rushing yards

August 27th, 2011
1:10 pm

VERY SAD SITUATION.

But I think this may be the final straw that has broken the donkey Tech has paraded around recently trying to claim that they ONLY draft super-smart, law abiding model citizens.

Matt Skole DUI, Jarret Jack DUI, the baseball team hosting an admitted drug addict as a publicity stunt (Charlie Sheen), NCAA catching Tech cheating, and now Crittenton murdering an innocent person……

Time to come off your high horse, nerds. Your athletic program is an embarrassment to this state.

final score > total rushing yards

August 27th, 2011
1:11 pm

pathetic Tech.

Just pathetic.

[...] was gunning for someone …Former Georgia Tech star Crittenton charged with murderNooga.comJavaris Crittenton: From budding star to murder suspectAtlanta Journal Constitution (blog)Javaris Crittenton Wanted For Alleged Murder, Had Good Reputation [...]

pembrook burrows III

August 27th, 2011
1:13 pm

Mark,
The Boston Celtics are the best NBA organization with the most banners . nuff said

Mark Bradley

August 27th, 2011
1:13 pm

I’m really not sure Georgia Tech had much, if anything, to do with this.

dawgfan

August 27th, 2011
1:17 pm

Georgia Tech would have nothing to do with this if their fans weren’t such sanctimonious holier than thou stuck up whiners who trash the character and intelligence of our entire football team every single chance they get. But that isn’t the case is it Bradley?

collegeballfan

August 27th, 2011
1:19 pm

People make decisions. Some are good and some are bad.

He left GT for a 3 year guaranteed NBA contract for several million dollars.

charlton heston

August 27th, 2011
1:20 pm

look at this tragic case,all handguns in this country should be collected melted down and used for something useful,like a boat anchor,the old saying guns don’t kill people,people kill people is just plain stupid,people with guns kill people

John

August 27th, 2011
1:24 pm

dawgfan- go back spooning with your sister, some cold buds, and watching monster truck on cable. you are one bitter schmo

Time

August 27th, 2011
1:26 pm

Bradley, Tech has just as much to do with it as UGA does when any UGA player gets in trouble. Doesn’t stop you from writing it or the Techies from posting their ThUGA nonsense.

Or is it UGA is always at fault when one of the kids wrecks a scooter or shoots off fireworks and gets in trouble, but Tech is absolved of any connection when one of it’s former players kills someone in a drive-by?

JD

August 27th, 2011
1:27 pm

Crittenton was a classic “one and done” under Hewitt. Give me a hard working student athlete that stays four years and grows and matures with the team. Never felt he was a true Tech player. Don’t know if he ever grew up and shooting at someone from a moving vehicle and hitting someone else is not a big shock. He obviously still had the thug mentality from Arenas.

JD

August 27th, 2011
1:29 pm

Hey Time, he’s been gone for years. Don’t think the coaches monitor them after they leave.

MJC

August 27th, 2011
1:34 pm

Whether it’s fair or not, Hewitt is probably going to have nightmares about this. “If I could’ve convinced him to stay just one more year…”

Lisa

August 27th, 2011
1:35 pm

A waste of talent and waste of life. What was he thinking?

JD

August 27th, 2011
1:37 pm

If there is anything that could be blamed on Tech, it is that Hewitt didn’t recruit him for character and knowing that, didn’t instill some in him before he left. You can sometimes turn a kid around with good role models and some you can’t. Don’t know if Hewitt ever tried.

[...] all around a web …Former NBA player Crittenton charged with murderLas Vegas Review-JournalJavaris Crittenton: From budding star to attempted attempted attempted murder suspectAtlanta Journal Constitution (blog)Former NBA player, Ga. Tech star longed for in killingWSB [...]

Lisa

August 27th, 2011
1:39 pm

Four children wake up every morning without their mother now. For what, revenge that wasn’t justified. May GOD be with and bless those children.

David Grey

August 27th, 2011
1:42 pm

Wow, blaming tech for the decisions made by a grown man, who happens to be a former student, five years after graduation? Really people? These actions were not allegedly undertaken by Javaris Crittenton in the context on him being a student athlete under the supervision of of the Georgia Tech Basketball Program. Tech’s supervision of student athletes ceases when said students leave the program, much akin to your kindergarten being absolved of responsibility for you, a former student, upon graduation. FYI…..we are all responsible for our own actions. And btw, I did not attend Tech.

Rasta

August 27th, 2011
1:43 pm

Just goes to show that sometimes you can take the kid out of the hood, but… et cetera

[...] Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Mark Bradley wrote an editorial Saturday morning looking back at the Atlanta native’s brief basketball career. Beginning with Crittenton [...]

dawgfan

August 27th, 2011
1:50 pm

David Grey, nobody is blaming Tech for anything. Tech fans should be no more ashamed of this than UGA fans should be when one of our football players steals a scooter helmet or urinates in some bushes, but Tech fans apparently don’t agree. They think its speaks poorly of the entire University of Georgia community when one of our football players fails to pay a speeding ticket or hits an unoccupied parked car and “flees the scene” from a UGA parking attendant. I suggest you take your beef up with them. I agree with you.

[...] the case, the former NBA player is bringing about plenty of reaction from all around the web …Javaris Crittenton: From budding star to murder suspectAtlanta Journal Constitution (blog)Former NBA player, Ga. Tech star wanted in killingWSB [...]

Baby daddy

August 27th, 2011
1:55 pm

Realize he’s gone, but….So much for the “we recruit a better, smarter, athlete theory.”

[...] the case, the former NBA player is bringing about plenty of reaction from all around the web …Javaris Crittenton: From budding star to murder suspectAtlanta Journal Constitution (blog)Former NBA player, Ga. Tech star wanted in killingWSB [...]

NovaJacket

August 27th, 2011
2:00 pm

Crittenton wanted to stay in school and was still going to classes unlike Young. However, family members wanted the payday and eventually won out. Wonder how everyone feels about that now….

GIVE ME A BREAK

August 27th, 2011
2:02 pm

A lot of comments are out of line as usual. You can’t blame GAC, GT or the NBA for his decisions. It looks like his parents steered him in the right diection but in the end it’s all on him. Still sad for him and the young woman killed.

GIVE ME A BREAK

August 27th, 2011
2:04 pm

David Grey, agree.

The Spirit of UGA VII

August 27th, 2011
2:04 pm

Crittenton is not in custody and is believed to be in the greater Los Angeles area, Meadows said. Atlanta detectives are working with the FBI to take him into custody. AJC

Well, all I know is the police are mighty casual about this. If some UGA kid gets caught peeing in some bushes off a sidewalk the cops are all over him and it makes all the news. Here, some guy opens up with a gun from a moving car, kills some woman walking down a street, and then gets on a plane and disappears. We all know the Atlanta cops and the FBI couldn’t catch a cold while laying on a block of ice in January.

And no, I don’t blame GT for any of this. But this whole thing says a lot about the cheapness of human life in Atlanta.

JSS

August 27th, 2011
2:06 pm

The comments here are among the many reasons why I deride so called major college athletics and its supporters. This is beyond silly, there is a person d-e-a-d! What don’t you people get about this matter?

The problems with Crittenton have so little to do with Tech, SW Atlanta Christian, his two two parent upbringing, Atlanta, nor the NBA. This all revolves around him being a “man” with a lack of any impulse control.

Now, I’m not to prejudge this case. That is what the courts are for, I know from the previous high profile cases in this region that is rarely the fact.

David Smith

August 27th, 2011
2:09 pm

I would have thought that Javaris would have learned from the altercation between him and Gilbert Arenas. Violence is never the answer in solving disputes and now one young life is extinguished and a gifted young basketball player’s career is in shambles.

[...] from all around the web …Former NBA player Javaris Crittenton wanted for murderSportsrageousJavaris Crittenton: From budding star to murder suspectAtlanta Journal Constitution (blog)Former NBA player, Ga. Tech star wanted in killingWSB [...]

[...] Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Mark Bradley wrote an editorial Saturday morning looking behind during a Atlanta native’s brief basketball career. Beginning with Crittenton [...]

moboman

August 27th, 2011
2:13 pm

What a waste. IF convicted, he will get plenty of time to grow up now. Im neither a GT or UGA fan, but really UGA folks, you make yourself look ridiculous trying to tie this to GT. Crittendon didnt stay long enough to be a GT man. If he had stayed a few years, he might have had the chance to mature enough to get his priorities straight. And I would be saying the same if he had been a UGA grad. He’s just a wasted talent who never grew up. Opting out early and taking the millions not very valuable if you dont know what to do with them.

bigeasy830

August 27th, 2011
2:19 pm

Mark Bradley

I first learned of this a week ago. I live on the south side and the young lady grew up with a close relative of mine and she died less than 15 ft from his doorstep. Atlanta PD asked the witnesses not to disclose much to the media pending the investigation. There is so much more to this story. Crittenton grew up on Cleveland Ave. Critentton grew up with most of the young people involved in this incident. He knew the young girl. He was robbed leaving a barbershop on Cleveland Ave one night. I guess he was one of those millionaire athletes that thinks he is so hood he can go back to the hood anytime with no fear of danger, WRONG, I am a working man and I get inside and lock the doors before the street lights come on. But anyway, After he was robbed, he went back into the barber shop with a pistol and claimed those guys set him up. That was not true, those guys are older and about business not foolishness. After that he drove through those neighborhoods questioning people about the incident. It was determined that there is notorious clique in the neighborhood that probably robbed him. Word is Crittenton committed a drive by shooting a couple a months earlier on a young man that he thought robbed him, he missed, the victim was unharmed in that incident. He was driving the same Tahoe. After the drive-by, the witness say they told APD who did it and gave them a motive. They told them it was Crittenton and he did it as retaliation for the earlier robbery. Crittenton should have been arrested for that drive-by, he should have served time for the gun in the locker room incident in DC. If he had been punished accordingly for those crimes maybe this young lady would still be alive to raise her 4 kids. I know it’s hard to believe, I did not believe it at first but when my source told me of the motive and my knowledge of the gun in the locker room incident and I thought of the Rae Carruth incident, I then knew he was stupid enough to commit this crime. The NBA swept that incident under the rug. Crittenton and Arenas should still be in prison over that. Both committed aggravated assault along with IRS violations for the gambling and not paying taxes on winnings, remember former Atlanta Mayor Bill Cambell served 2 yrs for that. From my understanding these card take place often on. most teams in all pro sports. It’s sad, the victim Julian Jones will be laid to rest today. 4 children will be without a mother. All because Crittenton ego was bruised because he got caught slipp’in. No material things are worth a life. He knew that girl was not involved in the robbery. But he still had no regard for her life as he pulled that trigger to seek revenge against the young men she was walking with that he thought robbed him. It’s sad man just sad.

[...] the case, the former NBA player is bringing about plenty of reaction from all around the web …Javaris Crittenton: From budding star to murder suspectAtlanta Journal Constitution (blog)Former NBA player, Ga. Tech star wanted in killingWSB [...]

Stinger2

August 27th, 2011
2:27 pm

Bradley:
threetrone`s racist comments need to be removed immediately. Very sad and bad.