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Javaris Crittenton Wanted For Murder, And That's More Shocking Than It Seems

If the only thing you know about Javaris Crittenton is that he once loaded a gun during some sort of testosterone-geeked standoff with possible insane person Gilbert Arenas, Friday night's news that the former Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets player is wanted for a southwest Atlanta shooting death probably isn't all that surprising.

All he does is seek out gunfights all day long, so of course he was eventually accused of killing somebody, right? Even those who are familiar with Crittenton beyond that one story, like Georgia Tech great Dennis Scott, can't help but make the connection between this police report and that event.

We still don't know for sure that Crittenton did it, but if that stupid bout of gunplay turns out to have been foreshadowing all along, we're still left wondering what changed for Southwest Atlanta Christian's four-time team captain and 3.5-grade point average student. Whatever turned a kid praised by his teachers, coaches and principals into an alleged killer, it did so in less than half a decade.

How is that possible?

During the Wizards thing, the New York Times put together an excellent profile of Crittenton. Everybody's got friends back home who swear the subject is misunderstood, but the story here is consistent:

Friends, educators, former coaches and teammates almost uniformly describe Crittenton as intelligent, thoughtful, generous and well mannered. His college coach recalls him as a neat freak ... During his brief time with the Los Angeles Lakers, Crittenton was known for dressing smartly and answering questions with a simple "yes sir" or "no sir."

Think about the players he looked up to as a high schooler and in college. Dwight Howard and Josh Smith have stayed out of trouble are known as no worse than eccentric, and, while Jarrett Jack has a DUI arrest to his name, he's known as a hard worker and one of the best leaders in Tech basketball history.

Crittenton spends summers donating money and time to youth basketball programs. Southwest Atlanta Christian, the Atlanta Celtics and Georgia Tech ... that's a pedigree, maybe the surest path to success an Atlanta basketball player could take, and one that hasn't produced very many murderers thus far.

Again, what the hell?

There's a note in that Times piece about Crittenton ditching longtime agent and mentor Wallace Prather Jr., who had lengthy ties to everybody's Atlanta hoops background, shortly before the locker room incident. And in a contract year, no less. At the time, Prather was concerned about changes in the prodigal player's behavior. Mark that on the timeline, but it doesn't really help.

Especially considering he came away from the Arenas duel saying the right things:

Use wisdom in everything and just don't get caught up in foolishness and nonsense and crazy people around you. It was a bad decision on both ends and we're trying to move forward with our careers and our lives.

There's not a clear plot from there to here, even if you fill it in with injuries and one very public mistake turning a NBA backup role into a for-hire D-League career. All we're left to piece together is the story of a young man who quietly worked his ass off until he reached the highest point of his profession, then lost his mind as his career fell apart.

Shooting into a crowd of people over some goddamn jewelry.

The most important point of the matter is that a young mother is dead, but the most incredible is that one of the best athletes the city has ever produced is about to be arrested in suspicion of murder, and an especially senseless murder at that.

How does that happen?

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.