NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Michael Wright, former basketball star who was once drafted by the Knicks, was found dead this week in Midwood, Brooklyn — and police late Wednesday said he was a homicide victim.
Wright, 35, was found dead Tuesday in the back seat of a Lexus sport-utility vehicle parked on East 16th Street near Avenue J, police said.READ MORE: Manorhaven Gets Nassau County Funding For $6 Million Main Street Refurbishment
Wright’s body was found beneath some trash bags, and a tarp covering his head, police sources said.
He had last been seen Sunday near his home in Closter, New Jersey, sources said. His roommate reported him missing and notified police in New Jersey on Sunday, NYPD sources told CBS2.
Police initially believed Wright’s death was a suicide, but the New York City Medical Examiner’s office classified the death as a homicide, sources said.
The official cause of death for Wright was blunt force trauma to the back of the head that fractured his skull, and the manner of death was a homicide, police said. A homicide investigation was under way Wednesday evening, police said.
Wright was a star basketball player at Farragut Career Academy on the West Side of his native Chicago. He played with NBA standout Kevin Garnett as part of a legendary squad at Farragut, CBS Chicago reported.
That 1995 team finished 28-2, but was upset in the state playoffs by a talented squad from Thornton High School in the south Chicago suburbs. But at one point that season, Farragut was ranked in the top five in the nation by USA Today, CBS Chicago reported.READ MORE: Hit-And-Run Driver Slams Into Married Couple Leaving Suffern Christmas Parade
Wright was drafted by the Knicks in 2001, but never played in the NBA. He went on to play for several teams in Europe until this year and held a dual citizenship in Turkey, CBS Chicago reported.
Wright played at Arizona from 1998 to 2001 and was a third-team All American after his final season. He played in the 2001 NCAA championship game, losing that year to Duke, CBS Chicago reported.
Retired basketball pro Ronnie Fields, who also played with Wright at Farragut in Chicago, issued a tweet in his memory Wednesday night.
Wright’s high school coach, William “Wolf” Nelson, learned of Wright’s death from Wright’s mother Wednesday morning, CBS Chicago reported.
Nelson said it was like losing a son, adding that he last spoke with Wright when the player called the coach on his birthday. Nelson said that he has spoken with Garnett, who said the NBA all-star was stunned to learn the news, CBS Chicago reported.MORE NEWS: 'Trees For Troops' Spreads Holiday Cheer To Brave Americans Stationed Overseas
The investigation into Wright’s death continued late Wednesday night.