DALLAS (AP) — Bryce Dejean-Jones had a bright future in the NBA, the league commissioner said following the death of the New Orleans Pelicans guard who was shot after kicking down the door of what he mistakenly thought was his girlfriend’s apartment in Dallas.
The death of the promising 23-year-old player rattled the league over the long weekend and raised questions about what led up to the shooting.
Dallas police said Sunday they would not have more information about the incident until after the holiday and did not answer The Associated Press’ question regarding whether the man who shot Dejean-Jones would face charges. It is legal in Texas for people to use deadly force to protect themselves from intruders.
Dejean-Jones’ father told Los Angeles station KCBS-TV that his son was tenacious.
“He has had so many things that have happened to him along his path,” said K.C. Jones at his home in Inglewood, California, where Dejean-Jones grew up. “He made up his mind that he wanted to do what he was doing — play pro ball. And whatever it took, he was going to get there. He was going to do it.”
Dejean-Jones was visiting his girlfriend for his daughter’s first birthday and had gone for a walk early Saturday, according to his agent, Scott W. Nichols. His girlfriend lives on the fourth floor, and Dejean-Jones, who was visiting the complex for the first time, went to the third floor.
A man living at the apartment was sleeping when he heard his front door kicked open, police Senior Cpl. DeMarquis Black said Saturday in a statement. When Dejean-Jones began kicking at the bedroom door, the man retrieved a handgun and fired. Dejean-Jones collapsed in an outdoor passageway, and he died at a hospital.
“It’s shocking this happened,” Nichols said. “Wrong place, wrong time, I think.”
In Dejean-Jones’ only NBA season, which ended in February because of a broken right wrist, the 6-foot-6 guard started 11 of 14 games and averaged 5.6 points and 3.4 rebounds.
Nichols said Dejean-Jones had nearly completed his physical rehabilitation and was set to begin shooting with his right hand again next week.
“We are devastated at the loss of this young man’s life,” the Pelicans said in a statement.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver called it a “tragic loss” and said Dejean-Jones “had a bright future in our league.”
Dejean-Jones was signed by the Pelicans last summer after not being selected in the 2015 draft.
“I just lost my best friend/cousin last night enjoy life because you never know if tomorrow is guaranteed,” Shabazz Muhammad of the Minnesota Timberwolves wrote on Twitter.
Dejean-Jones was part of the 2014-15 Iowa State team that went 25-9, captured a Big 12 title and made a fourth consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament. He also played at Southern California and UNLV. He was suspended late in the 2013-14 season from UNLV for conduct detrimental to the team, and announced that he was leaving USC midway through the 2010-11 season.
Former Cyclones coach Fred Hoiberg, now the coach of the NBA’s Chicago Bulls, added in a statement that Dejean-Jones was a “passionate and talented player that lived out his dream of playing in the NBA through hard work and perseverance.”
Julie Keel, a spokeswoman for Camden Property Trust, the real estate company that owns the apartment complex in Dallas, confirmed that the complex’s apartment manager had sent out an email to residents saying that the person who had been shot had been trying to break into “the apartment of an estranged acquaintance” and that this person had “inadvertently” broken into the wrong apartment.
Black said he could not confirm that Dejean-Jones was trying to access an acquaintance’s apartment.