BREAKING NEWS: EX-BOSTON CELTICS PLAYER DIE TODAY DUE TO….

Brandon Hunter, who played briefly for the Boston Celtics and Orlando Magic, died Tuesday at age 42.

His mother-in-law, Carolyn Cliett, said he collapsed while doing hot yoga in Orlando, but no cause of death was announced.

“It was hot yoga, and he did it regularly,” she told NBC News. “He was in good shape as far as we know. We’re just shocked.”

 

Boston Celtics report card: Grading every player on roster after 2022 All-Star  break - masslive.com

Hunter, a 6-foot-7 forward, was a four-year starter at Ohio University from 1999-2000 to 2002-03. He averaged 16.9 points, 9.3 rebounds and 2.1 assists in 119 games for the Bobcats. He put up 21.5 points, 12.6 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game as a senior.

The Celtics selected him in the second round of the 2003 draft (56th overall). Hunter played in 36 games (12 starts) for Boston in 2003-04, producing 3.5 points and 3.3 rebounds per contest.

He played 31 games, all off the bench, the following season for the Magic, averaging 3.1 points and 2.2 rebounds.

Former Ohio basketball coach Tim O’Shea posted on Facebook of Hunter, “He was the best player I ever had the good Fortune of coaching — he excelled at Ohio University, and then went on to play in the NBA for Boston and Orlando, then successfully in Europe, before transitioning to a successful career as a sports agent. We stayed in touch over the years, and I was incredibly proud of the husband, father, and citizen he became.. please keep his family in your prayers.”

ON FEB. 18, 2022, Memphis Grizzlies superstar Ja Morant was on a private jet en route to Cleveland for the All-Star Game, surrounded by friends and family. The occasion was momentous, and he decided to chronicle it.

Before taking his seat, he began streaming on Instagram Live. He settled in, stretched his legs and inquired about a deck of cards. He bantered with his grandmother.

Then, Morant grabbed a bottle of Clase Azul Tequila, one of the most expensive tequila brands in the world. With 10,500 people watching, he propped up his phone near a window, held the oversized white bottle at his side with both hands and aimed it at the phone, cocking the bottle back and forth, like a machine gun. He then did the same with a bottle of Casamigos tequila.

“Choose your poison,” he said.

Soon after, Morant panned the camera toward Kevin Helms, the Grizzlies’ head of team security, who is often by Morant’s side. “Kev, say what up Kev,” Morant said. Helms, sitting in a different row, flashed a peace sign.

“Y’all see my dog rocking that MBNO,” Morant said of Helms, referencing the logo on his hooded sweatshirt. Those letters are tattooed on Morant’s stomach and stand for “My Brothers No Others,” a moniker for those in his inner circle and a clothing brand led by his childhood friend Davonte Pack, who sat nearby.

The livestream continued, as tequila was passed around the plane.

“Y’all babysitting that bottle?” Morant asked the group behind him.

Morant then asked viewers to come to the MBNO pop-up in Cleveland, which the Grizzlies’ verified Instagram account commented on with four flame emojis.

Bottles continued to be shared. “I’m trying to get the bottle,” Morant said. “They’re babysitting the bottle.” He’s handed one, and he takes a long pull.

“Oh man, we was lit,” Morant later said of the flight.

It was that weekend, multiple sources in and around the Grizzlies organization said, that some early warning signs became habitual. When concerns around the team and league deepened. And it is when, sources said, Morant’s misconduct accelerated, becoming more frequent and public.

In the 18 months since, more serious allegations have surfaced. Lawsuits and subpoenas have been filed and remain open. It is a period in which a 22-year-old rising superstar struggling with the excesses of fame has become a 24-year-old man whose actions are jeopardizing his career.

“He went to that first All-Star Game,” one team source said, “and then the alligators got him.”


THE JA MORANT now mentioned in court documents and police reports, and the subject of multiple NBA suspensions, is not, according to Grizzlies insiders, scouts and Memphis business owners who interacted with him frequently, the Ja Morant who entered the league just four years ago.

Before being drafted by the Grizzlies with the No. 2 overall pick in 2019, scouting reports on the high-flying point guard out of mid-major Murray State revealed little in the way of red flags.

“Zero,” said one veteran NBA scout who scouted Morant for a lottery team in position to draft him. “He was the consummate coachable teammate, a choirboy. Underrecruited. Didn’t have many scholarship offers. Played with a chip on his shoulder. Glowing stuff. Nothing. There was absolutely nothing.”

Said a second veteran NBA scout: “I studied him inside and out. There was not one person who had a bad thing to say about him. Very much a late bloomer. Good family. Had a work ethic. Humble. He checked every single box.”

In their Morant scouting reports, which were reviewed by ESPN, his coaches in high school and at Murray State offered glowing remarks on the court and, notably, away from it. His high school coach, Dwayne Edwards, of Crestwood High School in Sumter, South Carolina, said that Morant had no off-the-court issues. An AAU coach of Morant’s said Morant’s father didn’t interfere and would always support his son. A Murray State assistant coach, James Kane, said Morant didn’t drink, didn’t smoke and created no issues. Murray State head coach Matt McMahon said he’d had no problems with Morant. Others around the team praised his work ethic, commitment in the weight room and the film room. They said he was respectful, humble, tough, coachable. That he could be silly but nothing problematic, a leader, a gym rat, unfazed by fame.

They missed him.

During his first season in Memphis, there were positive returns, with Grizzlies staff passing along intel to scouts that the eventual Rookie of the Year was always asking questions and great to work with. Morant established himself in just his third NBA game, scoring 17 of his 30 points in a comeback fourth quarter, blocking a potential winning shot from Kyrie Irving and tallying the winning assist on a buzzer-beating overtime winner over the Brooklyn Nets.

“It’s just my edge,” he said then. “The chip I have on my shoulder from what I had to go through to get to the NBA. My dad always told me that I was trained to go, basically that I’m built for the moment. And my mom always told me I’m beneath no one.” After that game, he went home to watch film with his mom and dad, as he often did.

Around Memphis, some who interacted often with Morant and his father, Tee, felt similarly. “They were very humble and respectful people,” said one longtime Memphis business owner whose establishments Morant and his father frequented. “They would never overstep the boundaries. Easy to talk to. The customers enjoyed them. It started like that.”

Said another Memphis businessperson who frequently interacted with Morant: “He would always kind of come off very humble. He would ask questions, ‘Man, if you don’t mind, can I have a seat right there?’ Very courteous.”

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