Former NBA player and current Atlanta Hawks instructor Nick Van Exel’s son was sentenced on Friday to 60 years in prison for murdering his best friend in 2010.
A North Texas jury convicted Nickey Maxwell Van Exel, 22, for the deadly shooting of 23-year old Bradely Bassey Eyo. The same jury in Dallas County found the younger Van Exel guilty of murder on Thursday.
His defense attorney said the two young men were playing with a shotgun at the defendant’s home in Garland and that Nicky Van Exel didn’t know the gun was loaded. After the allegedly accidental shooting, Van Exel dumped Eyo’s body at Lake Ray Hubbard, on the eastern outskirts of Dallas. For that, prosecutors had sought a capital murder conviction.
The jury returned a guilty verdict after just two hours of deliberation.
The elder Van Exel played 13 seasons in the NBA and is currently in his third year as the player development instructor for the Hawks. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, he “has been away from the team for the past two days and testified at the penalty phase of the case, which began Friday.
The Hawks would not comment on the legal matter.”
The AP reported that during his testimony, Van Exel “recalled the time that he took his son and Eyo to a 2006 NBA Finals game in Miami between the Heat and the Mavericks.” He later broke down and “wept on the witness stand and apologized to the family of the victim.”
“I’m really sorry to the Eyo family. Nobody should have to go through something like this. Nobody,” Van Exel said, as he looked at Eyo’s family members who were in the courtroom.