The death of New Orleans Pelicans player Bryce Dejean-Jones has shocked the NBA. The 23-year-old was
shot and killed
early Saturday in Dallas, Texas.
According to police, Dejean-Jones was shot after strong-arming his way into an apartment he believed belonged to his ex-girlfriend – the mother of his daughter. However, authorities say he had the wrong address – and instead forced his way into a stranger’s apartment. The man inside, who had been sleeping, armed himself with a gun and opened fire.
The man who shot Dejean-Jones told police he called out to the intruder but got no response. When Dejean-Jones went to open the apartment’s bedroom door, the owner claims he fired his weapon, striking the NBA player once in the abdomen.
Dejean-Jones was transported to a nearby hospital where he was pronounced dead.
Here are five things you should know about Dejean-Jones:
1. He was a college basketball standout
Before joining the pros, Dejean-Jones, who was born and raised in Los Angeles, played for Iowa State University’s men’s basketball team during the 2014-15 season.
He was one of the highest-scorers on the team, playing in 33 games for the Cyclones and averaging 10.5 points per game. He helped lead Iowa State to win the Big 12 Tournament in 2015.
His college career began at the University of Southern California as a freshman.
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He then transferred to the University of Las Vegas, appearing in all 35 games and starting 29 of them. He was third in scoring for the Runnin’ Rebels with 10.3 points per game, third in steals and assists with 0.9 and 2.3 per game respectively, and fourth in rebounds with 4.4 rebounds a game.
2. His professional career got off to a rocky start
None of the NBA’s teams picked Dejean-Jones during the 2015 NBA Draft, but the shooting guard joined the New Orleans Pelicans after playing for the team during the 2015 NBA Summer League in Las Vegas.
Dejean-Jones signed a contract with the Pelicans back on August 20, 2015, but he was waived by the team two months later.
He was snapped up by the Idaho Stampede – an NBA Development League – late last year, and played his first game with the team on Dec. 19, 2015, recording 15 points, three rebounds, four assists and one steal during the team’s 117–107 route of the Santa Cruz Warriors.
3. He became a starter for the Pelicans after another player got injured
On Jan. 21, 2016, Dejean-Jones inked a 10-day contract with the Pelicans. A week later, during his fourth game with the team, he assumed the shooting guard position in place of the injured Tyreke Evans.
In just over 30 minutes of play, Dejean-Jones scored 14 points, grabbed 2 rebounds, recorded 2 assists, had 2 steals and blocked one shot, leading the Pelicans to a 114-105 victory over the Sacramento Kings.
With Evans on the inactive list, Dejean-Jones kept starting for the Pelicans, and enjoyed a career-best game against the Los Angeles Lakers on Feb. 4, scoring 17 points and 9 rebounds in what was a 99–96 loss.
He signed a three-year deal with the Pelicans two weeks later, and played his last game on Feb. 24 – right before undergoing successful surgery to repair a right wrist fracture.
4. He was best friends with Minnesota Timberwolves player Shabazz Muhammad
In a Tweet posted over the weekend, the Minnesota Timberwolves shooting guard revealed he was good friends with Dejean-Jones.
“I just lost my best friend/cousin last night,” Muhammad tweeted. “Enjoy life because you never know if tomorrow is guaranteed. Love you soldier.”
5. He is the first active NBA player to die since 2007
When Dejean-Jones died on Saturday, he became the first active NBA player to die in nearly 10 years.
In 2007, at the age of 25, Eddie Jamaal Griffin was killed in a car crash in Houston, Texas. Police records indicate Griffin ignored a railroad warning, and struck a moving train.
Griffin played his last season with the Minnesota Timberwolves, who waived him five months before his death.