Ex-NBA player Jayson Williams slightly hurt in SUV crash; NYPD says he may have been drinking

By Colleen Long, AP
Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Ex-NBA star Jayson Williams hurt in NYC crash

NEW YORK — Jayson Williams’ SUV veered off an exit ramp and struck a tree Tuesday, causing minor injuries to the troubled former NBA player. Police said he may have been drinking before the crash.

Williams was in the passenger seat when officers arrived and told them someone else had been driving. But witnesses told police they saw him in the driver’s seat, and officers said no one else was in the car.

The black Mercedes-Benz SUV was exiting FDR Drive at East 20th Street in Manhattan when it veered off the curved exit, authorities said.

The New York Police Department said it appeared Williams may have been drinking before the 3:15 a.m. crash. Williams was taken to Bellevue Hospital, where he refused a breath test, authorities said. He has not been charged.

The name of his attorney was not immediately on record. Last month, lawyers in New Jersey asked to be removed from his defense against a reckless manslaughter charge stemming from a 2002 shooting.

Williams retired from the New Jersey Nets in 2000 after a decade in the NBA, unable to overcome a broken leg suffered a year earlier when he collided on court with teammate Stephon Marbury. At the time, he was in the second year of a six-year, $86 million contract.

He was suspended from his job as an NBA analyst for NBC after the shooting.

Williams is scheduled to be retried on the reckless manslaughter count that produced a deadlocked jury in 2004.

Witnesses testified that Williams had been drinking and was showing off a shotgun in his bedroom in February 2002 when he snapped the weapon shut and it fired one shot that struck a hired driver, Costas Christofi, in the chest. They also testified that Williams initially placed the gun in the dead man’s hands and instructed those present to lie about what happened.

The defense maintained the shooting was an accident and that Williams panicked afterward.

The jury deadlocked on the reckless manslaughter count, acquitted Williams of aggravated manslaughter and convicted him of covering up the shooting. He was never sentenced for the cover-up counts, pending the outcome of the retrial, and has remained free on bail.

Williams suffered a series of further setbacks last year. His wife filed for divorce, and police used a stun gun on him in a New York hotel after a female friend said he was acting suicidal. He was charged with assault in May after allegedly punching a man in the face outside a North Carolina bar, but charges were dropped. In November, Williams’ father, E.J., with whom he owned a construction business, died in South Carolina.

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