A sad, tragic end in Memphis

Former NBA player Lorenzen Wright was found shot to death in Memphis on Wednesday. (Getty...

Former NBA player Lorenzen Wright was found shot to death in Memphis on Wednesday. (Getty Images/NBAE/Scott Cunningham)

JOHN MCMULLEN, Sports Network

, Last Updated: 3:28 PM ET

PHILADELPHIA -- A body riddled with bullets was found in Southeast Memphis Wednesday afternoon in a thickly wooded area near FedEx's world headquarters.

It was just another sad ending in a city that has become notorious for its gang problems and ever-increasing homicide rate.

But, Lorenzen Wright was the last person that should have been caught up in the underbelly of Memphis.

Wright spent 13 years in the NBA after being selected seventh overall by the Los Angeles Clippers in the 1996 draft.

Raised near Oxford, Miss., the River City would become a constant in Wright's short life. The 6-foot-11 power forward played his high school and college ball in Memphis, and eventually ended up with the Grizzlies in 2001-02 when he was traded by the Atlanta Hawks along with Pau Gasol and Brevin Knight to the Grizz for Shareef Abdur-Rahim and Jamaal Tinsley.

Although he never lived up to the billing of a top 10 pick, Wright carved out a niche that enabled him to make over $55 million dollars over his NBA career, and he never hesitated to give back to his hometown.

During his first of three NBA stints in Atlanta, Wright, Penny Hardaway and two other Memphis-area NBA players (Todd Day and Elliot Perry) furnished $10,000 to Travis Butler, a 9-year-old boy who lived with his mother's corpse for a month out of fear he would be put in foster care if anyone found out she was dead.

He also founded the Sierra Simone Wright Scholarship Fund designed to award students for academic achievement and heavy involvement in their school or community after the death of his infant daughter in March 2003.

Now, all that's left of Wright's legacy is for police to figure out what happened to him in the early morning hours of July 19.

The 34-year-old Wright was last seen alive on July 18 and was reported missing by his family four days later. A 911 call was received from Wright's cell phone at 1:00 am on the 19th and the caller, presumably Wright, was speaking with the dispatcher when several gun shots rang out.

According to 730 Fox Sports in Memphis, Wright was shot at least a dozen times and possibly as many as 18 times, a fact that most investigators will tell you points away from a random act of violence.

By Wednesday night, local media reports had nearly 200 people gathering in the area Wright's body was found as investigators combed the area for evidence and brought in a mobile command centre.

"We are deeply saddened by the tragic death of Lorenzen Wright," Grizzlies owner Michael Heisley said in a statement. "We lost a member of the Grizzlies family. Lorenzen delighted fans on the court with his passion and off the court with his generosity in a Memphis community that watched him grow throughout his playing career at Booker T. Washington High School, the University of Memphis and the NBA."

Family and friends, meanwhile, are having a difficult time coming to terms with Wright's tragic end.

"Lorenzen's family has come together to mourn his loss and honour his legacy," his family said in a statement issued through their cousin, Camella Logan. "We appreciate your thoughts, prayers and condolences as they are comforting at this very difficult time. Additionally, we ask that you please respect our privacy as we try to cope with his sudden loss."

"I cried, the emotions hit me immediately," Hardaway told Eyewitness News in Memphis. "It's sad because we lost a good person and a brother."

Wright leaves behind six children and a mystery for Memphis to solve.

"To end his career and his life like this here in some woods, that's not good," friend Stan McKinley said. "You don't do a dog like this. It's just a really sad day for the city as a whole."


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