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Ex-UCLA Basketball Star Found Dead After He Posted Emotional Video

By Chris Jasurek

The body of former UCLA basketball player William “Billy” Knight was found lying beside a road in Phoenix on July 8. He was 39 years old.

The day before, Knight had posted a tearful video on YouTube explaining how he had “lived a life of sin.”

“This is probably my last message on Earth,” the recording began.

Police said there was no evidence of foul play, reported Fox News. No official cause of death has been released. The video, however, appears to suggest suicide.

William Knight (Phoenix PD)
William Knight (Phoenix PD)

Arrested for Sexual Abuse of a Child

Knight was arrested in June for sexually abusing a nine-year-old girl, reported TMZ Sports

According to Bleacher Report, Maricopa County prosecutors charged Knight with two counts each of sexual conduct with a minor, sexual abuse and molestation of a child.

The alleged crime occurred on April 1, 2017.

Knight was released on $100,000 bail and fitted with an ankle monitor. He was ordered to stay away from the victim, but instead contacted her repeatedly showed up at her home, reported TMZ.

On July 5, prosecutors filed a motion to revoke Knight’s bail for violating his release conditions, ABC News reported.

Knight faced more than 50 years in prison if convicted on all counts.

Billy Knight of the UCLA Bruins shoots a free throw shoots a free throw in an NCAA game against the Washington State Cougars on Jan. 6, 2002. (Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Billy Knight of the UCLA Bruins shoots a free throw shoots a free throw in an NCAA game against the Washington State Cougars on Jan. 6, 2002. (Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

‘Mental Illness is Serious’

In the video Knight spoke about his struggle with mental illness.

“Mental illness is serious. I hear voices in my head constantly; I don’t know where they come from,” he said

“I am lost in life and feel that I have no hope.”

The ex-basketball player said he posted the video to help others who might find themselves as lost as he was.

“I just want to help someone out there who’s feeling like me. Maybe an ex-athlete, maybe someone who’s changing jobs. I just want to try and at least help them out by putting this on Youtube.”

Knight played for UCLA from 1998–2002, averaging 14.1 points and 3.5 rebounds per game as a senior. He was passed over in the NBA draft, but went on to play professionally in France and Japan.

He worked for the Northern Arizona Suns, a developmental team affiliated with the Phoenix Suns, through the 2016–2017 season.  

Phoenix Suns’ forward Jared Dudley was shocked to hear of Knight’s death.  

UCLA Basketball was one among many who shared their sorrow over Knight’s passing on social media.   

“Our hearts are heavy after learning Billy Knight has passed away. We ask that the Bruin family keep Billy’s loved ones in their thoughts during this difficult time.”

‘Continue to Stay Faithful to Your God’

Knight also implored people to stay true to their religious faith, whatever form it might take.

“I grew up with Jesus Christ. He’s my Lord and Savior and I veered off and veered away, and I just used. I use people to get what I want and that’s not how you’re supposed to live. So if you feel like you’re using people, stop now.

“This life is for giving. The secret for living is giving. Give to others. Give your soul.”

He continued: “I love Earth, I try to do the best I can, but I got caught up in sin. You can’t live a life of sin.

“So whatever you do…just continue to stay faithful to your God.”

Knight described how he lied and cheated, and cut himself off from the people who loved him. When he started having problems, he refused help from those who cared. “You can’t do it on your own,” he said.

He urged people experiencing problems to get help.

Knight went on to thank his brother, Eric, for trying to help, and appeared to express remorse for treating him badly.

He closed by saying, “I’m sorry, Lord.”

If you or someone you know is showing signs that they might be suicide, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 800-273-TALK. You can also text the Crisis Text Line at 741741.

In the United States, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available at 1-800-273-8255.

If you’re in an emergency in the US or Canada, please call 911. You can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline on 1-800-273-8255. Young people can call the Kids Help Phone on 1-800-668-6868.

 

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