It’s hard to forget a name like Mookie Blaylock, even if you’re not a basketball fan. Throw in his defensive skills at point guard and you’ve got a fan favorite more than a decade since retiring from the NBA.
But Blaylock has frequently made headlines for off-court problems, including arrests for both drugs and alcohol. And now, he’s facing a string of charges — misdemeanors for now — for allegedly causing a head-on collision, while driving on a suspended license, that killed a 40-year-old mother of five.
Blaylock is accused of crossing the center of Tara Boulevard, causing the wreck that killed Monica Murphy, a front-seat passenger in the other vehicle, according to police. Murphy, her husband and Blaylock were all injured and transported to Atlanta Medical Center, Jonesboro Police Chief Franklin Allen said.
Blaylock was unresponsive and placed on life support at the hospital, but his condition improved over the weekend. Murphy died within hours of the wreck after undergoing surgery for internal injuries, according to police.
Murphy’s husband, Frankie, sustained a broken ankle in the crash, but said Monday he’s not sure when the emotional void of losing his wife will heal. The couple had just pulled onto Tara Boulevard from a fast-food restaurant when Blaylock’s Cadillac Escalade appeared as if out of nowhere, Frankie Murphy told Channel 2 Action News.
“The No. 1 thing in my life. Irreplaceable,” Murphy said of his wife. “There’s nothing that can get her back, there’s nothing that can replace the hole that’s been left.”
On Monday, Blaylock, 46, was charged with second-degree vehicular homicide for the Friday afternoon wreck in Jonesboro, the Clayton County Solicitor told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The former NBA and Hawks star, was also charged with improper lane change, driving on the wrong side of the road, driving on a suspended license and crossing into the median, Solicitor Tasha Mosley said.
All of the charges are misdemeanors. But Blaylock’s charges could be upgraded pending the results of toxicology tests, Mosley said. Second-degree homicide was the appropriate charge because investigators do not believe there was any malice, intent or contributing factors, such as alcohol, Mosley said. The charges were announced Monday after Mosley met with both the Clayton County district attorney and Allen.
“We’re working under the hypothesis that this was a medical emergency,” Allen told The AJC. “We can’t rule drugs and alcohol out, but we also can’t say it’s a contributing factor.”
Blaylock’s family has told police that he was being treated for seizures at the time of the crash, but the exact cause is still not known, Allen said. Blaylock remained in serious condition Monday.
Still, it’s hard to ignore Blaylock’s record.
At the time of Friday’s, Blaylock was facing DUI charges out of Spalding County stemming from March, according to an incident report. On March 20, Blaylock’s birthday, he was spotted staggering towards a grocery store and fell in the parking lot after allegedly hitting a vehicle, the Spalding County Sheriff’s Office report states.
“Mr. Blaylock was intoxicated, unsteady on his feet, had slurred speech and admitted to being highly intoxicated,” the report states.
He was arrested and charged with DUI and leaving the scene of an accident, but failed to appear in court to answer to the charges on May 21 and a warrant was issued for his re-arrest, court documents show.
The March arrest came 24 years after Blaylock, then 21, was charged with public intoxication in Oklahoma, where he was a starting guard for the University of Oklahoma Sooners in 1989. Blaylock pleaded “no contest” to an amended charge of disturbing the peace, was ordered to pay $69 in court fees and was suspended for his team’s first game in the Big Eight Conference tournament at Kansas City.
While an Atlanta Hawk, Blaylock was charged with DUI and speeding during a January 1995 traffic stop in Cobb County. A marijuana possession charge was also added when a leafy green substance in his vehicle was tested, The AJC previously reported. And in July 1997, Blaylock pleaded guilty in a Vancouver courtroom to marijuana possession after he was caught with 56 grams of the drug while on a team trip. He was fined about $28 in U.S. currency.
If convicted of second-degree homicide for Friday’s crash, Blaylock could spend up to a year in jail and be fined up to $1,000, according to state law. Although investigators do not believe alcohol and drugs were involved in the Clayton County crash, the blood tests will ultimately determine Blaylock’s fate.
“If we find that he was under the influence, the charges will be upgraded to vehicular homicide in the first degree,” Mosely said.
Funeral arrangements for Murphy have not yet been announced.