By The Associated Press
LOS ANGELES (AP) — A former coach and family friend of onetime Sacramento Kings and UCLA basketball player Tyler Honeycutt says he had grown increasingly concerned about the young man before he was found dead following a standoff with Los Angeles police.
Bort Escoto, who coached Honeycutt in high school, told the Los Angeles Times that Honeycutt’s mother called him early Saturday to say her son had killed himself.
In this June 23, 2011, file photo, NBA Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver, left, poses with No. 35 overall draft pick, UCLA’s Tyler Honeycutt, who was selected by the Sacramento Kings in the NBA basketball draft in Newark, N.J. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun, File)
Escoto told the Los Angeles Daily News that Honeycutt had “been going through some things.”
The day of his death, Escoto said he was planning on going to Honeycutt’s home after the 27-year-old called him.
“I planned on going to his house to talk, but his mom called me 45 minutes later saying, ‘He had a gun and was talking crazy,’” Escoto said. “I told her to call 911.”
Los Angeles police said they responded to a call reporting a man with a gun. They were talking with Honeycutt when they say he fired his weapon. Officers returned fire and a standoff ensued.
When police went into the home hours later, they found Honeycutt dead. The department said on Twitter that his injuries were consistent with a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Escoto, who remained close with Honeycutt through college and his pro career, said the young man had been calling him recently “and thanking me for all I’ve done for him.”
“He has been acting very unusual lately, and our conversations would leave me concerned for him,” he said.
Escoto told the Times that he never imagined Honeycutt would take his own life but knew the young man was having a hard time adjusting to life in Russia, where he was playing basketball in the Eastern European Professional Basketball League.
“It’s hard for an L.A. kid to go to Russia, not know the language or surroundings,” he said. “I just kept telling him he needed to get out and meet people.”
He said Honeycutt was supposed to sign a new contract with either Russia or Israel the day he died.