New Orleans Pelicans guard Bryce Dejean-Jones died of a gunshot wound on Saturday, and the NBA player's agent said it was because he mistakenly entered the wrong apartment.
The 23-year-old was shot early Saturday at an apartment in Dallas, police said. The apartment's resident told officers he was asleep when an intruder kicked open the front door and entered the home. The trespasser allegedly did not respond to calls from the resident, who then retrieved a handgun. He fired his weapon when the suspect kicked in the bedroom door, according to a police report. The intruder was wounded and left the apartment.
Police found the suspect collapsed in the breezeway after responding around 3:20 a.m. and transported him to a hospital, where he died of his injuries, police said. He was identified as Dejean-Jones.
Police are investigating the incident as a homicide.
"Bryce was visiting his girlfriend for his daughter’s first bday. This was the first time Bryce visited her new apartment,” Nichols said in a statement.
"Later that night Bryce came back to this apartment, incidentally he went to the wrong apartment on the 3rd floor just below his girlfriend’s fourth floor apartment. He was attempting to enter the apartment which led to him ultimately being in the wrong place at the wrong time."
A statement from the NBA obtained by ESPN corroborated the story.
Police have not confirmed Nichols' description of the incident.
Dejean-Jones signed a 10-day contract with the Pelicans in January and then got a three-year deal in February. The Los Angeles native played college ball at Iowa State, and in 2014-2015, helped the Cyclones to a 25-9 record, a Big 12 Championship title and entry to the NCAA Tournament. He also played for the University of Southern California and University of Las Vegas.
He started 11 games for the Pelicans before a wrist fracture derailed his season.
Dejean-Jones impressed in his short time with the Pelicans, and coaching staff were hopeful for his future. “He surprised a lot of us,” Pelicans assistant coach Phil Webe said. “We’re excited to have a young player in the system that potentially could become a solid rotation guy."
"It is with deep sadness that the Pelicans organization acknowledges the sudden passing of Bryce Dejean-Jones," the team said in a statement. We are devastated at the loss of this young man's life who had such a promising future ahead of him. Our thoughts and prayers are with Bryce's family during this difficult time."
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver called Dejean-Jones' death a "tragic loss."
"Bryce inspired countless people with his hard work and perseverance on his journey to the NBA, and he had a bright future in our league," Silver said in a statement.
Dejean-Jones' alma mater also mourned his death.
"We are deeply saddened to learn the tragic news about Bryce," former ISU head coach Fred Hoiberg said. "I'm grateful that our paths crossed in this life. Bryce was a passionate and talented player that lived out his dream of playing in the NBA through hard work and perseverance. It's an incredibly sad day for me and all of Iowa State University. Our thoughts and prayers are with Bryce's family."