Javaris Crittenton pleads guilty in 2011 shooting, gets 23 years in prison

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Javaris Crittenton appears in Los Angeles Superior Court for an extradition hearing on Aug. 31, 2011. (Al Seib-Pool/Getty Images)
Javaris Crittenton appears in Los Angeles Superior Court for an extradition hearing on Aug. 31, 2011. (Al Seib-Pool/Getty Images)

Former NBA guard Javaris Crittenton was sentenced to 23 years in prison and 17 years of probation on Wednesday after entering a guilty plea on charges related to the 2011 shooting death of an Atlanta woman.

The 27-year-old Crittenton — who played for the Los Angeles Lakers, Memphis Grizzlies and Washington Wizards in a two-year NBA career and is best known by NBA fans for his 2009 firearms-in-the-locker-room confrontation with then-teammate Gilbert Arenas — pleaded guilty to charges of voluntary manslaughter with a weapon and aggravated assault with a firearm. Prosecutors dropped the murder charge against him as part of the plea agreement. Reuters has more:

Opening statements had been expected on Wednesday in the murder case against Crittenton and his cousin, Douglas Gamble, who were accused of gunning down Julian Jones, 22, a mother of four, in a drive-by shooting in August 2011.

Gamble, who authorities said drove the car while Crittenton fired the gun, pleaded guilty on Wednesday to aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. He was sentenced to three years in prison and 17 years of probation.

Prosecutors have said the shooting was gang-related and retaliation against a person Crittenton believed had robbed him.

Crittenton "made a tearful apology" to Jones' family in court on Wednesday, according to Atlanta's WSB-TV, calling her shooting "a horrible accident."

That seemed to be the assessment at the time, as laid out in this in-depth September 2011 look at the case by Steve Hummer of the Atlanta Journal Constitution:

The barbershop on Cleveland Avenue was supposed to be a safe haven from the trials of the world, a familiar, old-neighborhood haunt where Crittenton had been getting shorn since he was a little boy and where the men accepted him as he was.

Yet, even there, he would come to feel like a target.

As Crittenton and a friend walked out of the shop late on the evening of April 21, they were ambushed by two young men who, at gunpoint, hustled them into Crittenton’s car and ordered them to hand over all they had. Crittenton reported to police the teens took a black diamond watch worth $30,000, a black diamond necklace worth $25,000, an iPhone and a small amount of cash.

Flash forward to the night of Aug. 19. As Julian Jones strolled with others near her home on Atlanta’s Macon Drive, a black SUV pulled up nearby. Witnesses say shots were fired from inside the car. One struck Jones, 22, in the hip. She died later at the hospital.

Upon issuing a warrant for Crittenton’s arrest on Aug. 26, police said that he was in the SUV and had recognized a young man with Jones as one of those who had robbed him four months earlier. The bullet that killed Jones allegedly was meant for him.

In January 2014, while released on bond and awaiting trial on the murder charge, Crittenton was also indicted in a federal drug investigation and "accused of selling multi-kilo quantities of cocaine and several hundred pounds of marijuana."

The downward spiral that culminated in Jones' death and Crittenton's sentencing reportedly coincided with the former first-round draft pick's years-long involvement with the Mansfield Family Gangster Crips, a Los Angeles gang whose members Crittenton befriended while with the Lakers during his rookie season.

“Javaris saw the glamour,” one Mansfield Crip told FOX Sports' Flinder Boyd last summer. “The way we move, people are attracted to that. That’s the powerful part."

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Dan Devine is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at devine@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter!

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