The personal assistant for recently murdered Lorenzen Wright, formerly of the Atlanta Hawks, says that she has a recorded voice mail message from Wright's ex-wife threatening to have him harmed. According to Wendy Wilson (pictured above), Wright's assistant, Sherra Wright told Lorenzen "things like if she caught him with anyone else, she'd have him 'F'd up or whatever."
Wilson filed a report with Memphis police, because she felt the calls were threatening to Wright. She also claims that Wright asked her to keep the tape in case something happened to him.
Sherra Wright's divorce attorney denies the allegations, saying that Wright's ex-wife was struggling to pay bills. "I just feel like Sherra Wright is being placed in a bad light," the attorney said to a local TV station. "She does not deserve it at all. She's been an incredible Mother and woman. And she's done her best to shield her children from financial difficulties."
After his divorce, Wright was ordered to pay $26,000 per month in child support and alimony. His ex-wife claims that he hadn't made a payment since November. One might doubt Wright's ability to pay his child support in light of the fact that he had two homes repossessed this year. The financial problems appear to be the cause of the alleged dispute between Wright and his ex-wife, which occurred shortly before he was found dead.
When it comes to figuring out who murdered Lorenzen Wright, the list is as long as any day of the week. There are the drug dealers Wright was affiliated with, his threatening ex-wife, and anyone else who might decide to stalk a famous athlete. There was a time when I was sure of who might have killed Wright, but now I have no idea.
Lorenzen Wright, whose death occurred in the middle of a complex relationship dispute, has a lot in common with another famous Tennessee athlete who was killed last year: the late Steve McNair. Both men died in what appeared to be simple situations, only for us to find out later that their lives were more distorted than any of us might have imagined.
Oh, what a tangled web we weave. I find it interesting that when it comes to love, relationships and black male athletes, the same story is played out over and over again:
1) Player goes to an academic institution that provides inferior education (Memphis is not known for producing Rhodes Scholars in its basketball program, but most universities don't even properly educate the athletes who actually graduate) and thinks that he's set for life because he can dribble a basketball. This didn't apply directly to Wright, however, who went against the grain and actually returned to Memphis to finish his degree. I applaud him for that choice, but this is not typical among basketball players at The University of Memphis, at least not historically.
2) Player gets to the NBA or NFL and earns more money than he could ever imagine. He is sure that when he runs out of money, there will always be more waiting. So he spends like crazy and goes in to an even crazier amount of debt. After all, he has more money than Jesus, right?
3) Player meets women during his stay in the NBA and maybe gets married. The first thing that men attract when they are rich, tall and famous is a woman (usually lots of them). Unfortunately, many of these women don't understand that a wealthy man is not as valuable as a man who is financially responsible.
4) Player gets divorced either during his time in the NBA or afterward and is ordered to pay $20,000 or more in child and spousal support. Child support payments are all based on what he can afford as a player, not what he'll be earning when he's done playing. In some cases, the settlements are worth tens of millions of dollars. In nearly every single divorce settlement, "infidelity" is cited as one of the causes, which makes me wonder why some athletes make promises that temptation may not allow them to keep. It ends up becoming a multimillion dollar mistake, for they are then penalized severely for doing what single men are allowed to do whenever they please.
5) Player's career comes to an end, and since many athletes are not properly educated during college, they usually have nothing to fall back on. So after spending several months or years trying to find another team who will take him, the aging athlete goes off in to the sunset, facing a mountain of debt he accumulated during his playing days as well as massive child support obligations that eventually lead the player in to bankruptcy. All of the chickens of your 20s come home to roost during your 30s and 40s, sometimes leading to a depressing, frustrating life.
6) In some cases, the story ends badly, with prison, drug addiction or even death. The suicide of the late Melvin Turner is a case in point, as well as the pending trial of former Kentucky star Antoine Walker, who earned $110 million during his career and is now facing bankruptcy. These stories are so common in the media that we hardly lift an eyebrow when they are published.
It's time to reverse this trend.
One more thing, while Sherra Wright's actions are certainly worthy of additional investigation, the fact that she threatened to "F-up" Lorenzen for not paying his child support doesn't mean she is connected with his death. At the same time, many murders across the United States are committed by those we once loved.
It's a strange world. I keep hoping that it will change at some point, but it almost never does. At the very least, there is always a teachable moment in everything we read or see in the world, and it is our job to extract the necessary lesson.
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Dr. Boyce Watkins is the founder of the Your Black World Coalition and the Athlete Liberation and Academic Reform Movement (ALARM). To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email, please click here.