WRIGHTSTOWN, N.J. (AP) — Retired NBA star Jayson Williams is preparing to move from a prison in rural New Jersey to New York City’s Rikers Island jail complex.
Williams will be transferred from the Mid-State Correctional Facility in Wrightstown on Aug. 19 after he finishes an 18-month sentence for aggravated assault. From there, he’ll begin serving a one-year sentence for driving while intoxicated in New York City.
The 43-year-old drove his sport-utility vehicle into a tree in lower Manhattan a week after he accepted a plea deal stemming from the shotgun death of a limo driver in his New Jersey mansion in 2002.
Williams’ manager, Akhtar Farzaie, told The Record newspaper of Bergen County that Williams attends Alcoholics Anonymous sessions six days a week and teaches a Bible study class.
Joseph Hayden, an attorney who represented Williams in the New Jersey case, told The Associated Press he believes Williams has “done well within the (prison) system; he’s been working real hard towards his rehabilitation,” he said.
The former New Jersey Net was a top player with a six-year, $86 million contract before a leg injury forced him to retire in 2000. A first-round NBA draft pick in 1990, he played nine seasons with the Philadelphia 76ers and the Nets. He averaged 10 or more rebounds a game in his final four NBA seasons and was named to an All-Star team.
Two years after retiring, he accidentally killed chauffeur Costas Christofi with a 12-gauge shotgun while showing it to friends, having failed to check the weapon’s safety mechanism before snapping the gun closed. Williams then wiped down the weapon and placed it in Christofi’s hands, stripped off his own clothes, handed them to a friend and jumped into his pool, according to testimony. Williams’ lawyers said his actions were driven by panic.
Williams was awaiting retrial on a reckless manslaughter count in the case but pleaded guilty in January 2010 to a lesser aggravated assault count. Under his plea agreement, Williams had to serve at least 18 months in state prison for the aggravated assault charge because a gun was involved, and up to five years for a prior conviction of trying to cover up the crime. The sentences were to run concurrent and he became eligible for parole after serving 18 months.