Oklahoma City Thunder guard Dion Waiters has left the team to join his family in mourning the death of his younger brother, who died in Waiters' hometown of Philadelphia on Tuesday.
Six people died in Philadelphia on Tuesday in six different incidents in a span of nine hours, according to Philadelphia FOX affiliate WTXF-TV. No arrests have been made, and police have not yet said whether they believe the incidents are related. One of the six victims, according to the network's Steve Keeley, was Waiters' brother.
A pair of Tuesday night posts on Waiters' Instagram account seem to address the loss:
The call I just got about my lil brother wasn't expecting this s***.....crushed my heart I never question why.... But this hurt.... I promise I got Yu mark my word..... Love Yu kid.. 😔😔 r.i.p 😡
Love Yu kid... Gone to soon ☹😒
The entire NBA family sends thoughts and prayers to @dionwaiters3 and his family during this difficult time.
— NBA (@NBA) March 9, 2016
The NBPA family is sending our thoughts and prayers to Dion Waiters and his family at this difficult time.
— NBPA (@TheNBPA) March 9, 2016
Philadelphia ABC affiliate WPVI-TV has more:
Over in the city's Grays Ferry section, 21-year-old Demetrius Pinckney was found dead in the 2300 block of Morris Street.
Police say he was found with severe injuries to the head, with a green dirt bike nearby.
Investigators also say a 20-year-old man was taken to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania by a private car, suffering a gunshot wound to the thigh and two gunshot wounds to the buttocks. He is listed in critical condition.
Police say there was some type of argument or disturbance that led to numerous dirt bike and ATV drivers chasing each other, and several gunshots were heard by witnesses.
Pinckney's death is being investigated as a homicide.
Pinckney is the younger brother of Oklahoma City Thunder shooting guard Dion Waiters, who is a Philadelphia native.
Waiters' rise from the streets of Philadelphia through the ranks of top prep prospects and, ultimately, to a two-year stay at Syracuse that led the Cleveland Cavaliers to select him the No. 4 overall pick in the 2012 NBA draft was marked by tragic loss, as detailed in a 2009 ESPN RISE magazine story by Brian A. Giuffra:
"That was the hardest time in my life," Waiters says. "I lost three cousins and a best friend, and they all came at the wrong time. Everyone told me to be strong and that they were in a better place. But I didn't want to hear that. They were gone and I will never see them again." [...]
While Waiters' basketball life was blooming, his personal life was in turmoil. His older cousin Antose Brown, whom Waiters spent nearly every day of his early life with, was shot to death in 2006. A year later, his cousin Isiah Brown and best friend Rhamik Thomas were gunned down on the street less than three months apart.
And even now, Waiters still deals with loss. This past summer, his cousin Carl Brown was killed in a motorcycle accident. Waiters says that was the hardest loss to deal with because it brought back memories of the previous deaths, but he adds, "I'm just happy I got the chance to say I love him before he passed."
"The last three or four years have been hard with the losses," Waiters says. "I can't even explain how hard it's been. I'll never get over it."
Waiters will not play in the Thunder's Wednesday night game against the Los Angeles Clippers, who sit 1 1/2 games behind Oklahoma City in the race for the No. 3 spot in the Western Conference playoff bracket. Waiters has come off the bench for the Thunder for the last seven games, averaging 9.3 points, two assists and 1.7 rebounds in 27.9 minutes per game, while shooting 40.7 percent from 3-point range.
"We feel for Dion, that's our brother," Thunder star Kevin Durant said during Wednesday's shootaround, according to Erik Horne of The Oklahoman. "It's tough for anyone to go through that. We have his back on everything. He's got our love and support. Just know we're here for him. It's tough getting the news yesterday about his brother."
Waiters' loss is the latest in a string of tragic incidents to affect the Thunder. Ingrid Williams, the wife of associate head coach Monty Williams, died Feb. 10 after injuries suffered in a multi-car crash in Oklahoma City. Aubrey McClendon, one of the team's minority-stake owners, died March 2 in a single-car crash one day after a federal grand jury indicted him on charges of conspiring to rig bidding oil and natural gas leases.
"That's how life throws it at you sometimes," Durant said. "It's definitely unfortunate. The only thing we can do is continue to stick together as an organization, as a family, and help everyone through this."
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