Saturday, March 28

Former UCLA basketball player found dead month after sex crime charges

This post was updated July 12 at 5:00 p.m. 

Former UCLA men’s basketball player Billy Knight was found dead Tuesday morning in Phoenix less than a month after being accused of sexually abusing a child.

The official cause of death has yet to be determined by the Maricopa County medical examiner, but no foul play is suspected, according to the Phoenix Police Department.

Prior to his death, Knight was charged with two counts each of molestation of a child, sexual abuse and sexual conduct with a minor, according to Maricopa County court documents. Knight was arrested June 13 and released on $100,000 bail on June 29.

The indictment, also filed June 13, alleges that the incidents took place in early April 2017. The state of Arizona later filed to revoke Knight’s release on July 5.

Knight posted a video on YouTube on Sunday urging others to seek help for mental illnesses. He said in the video that these would probably be his last words to the public.

“(This is) probably my last message on Earth,” he said in the video. “My time is up.”

Knight said he shared the video to help ex-athletes and those dealing with unexpected life changes.

“I isolated myself from my family, I isolated myself from my friends, and that’s not something you should do,” Knight said. “If this happens, you probably have a mental illness. Mental illness is serious.”

Multiple teammates and friends shared their condolences and memories of Knight on social media. Cal-Hi Sports’ Ronnie Flores wrote on Twitter that he and others in the UCLA and basketball communities tried to reach out to Knight on Monday after watching the video.

Knight, who was 39 years old, played for UCLA between 1997 and 2002. He went undrafted in the 2002 NBA Draft, but continued playing basketball in the D-League, Europe, Japan and with the Harlem Globetrotters.

Knight played 117 games for the Bruins, breaking out as a full-time starter as a fifth-year senior. He averaged 14.1 points per game that season, posting a 40.3 percent three-point percentage over his career at UCLA.

After retiring from basketball, Knight worked as a personal trainer.

Knight’s death comes just two days after another former Bruin and Sacramento King Tyler Honeycutt was killed in a shootout with police in Sherman Oaks, California. Earlier this year, another former UCLA men’s basketball player, Mike Lanier, died at the age of 48 due to pancreatic cancer.

Counseling and Psychological Services counselors are available 24/7 on the emergency crisis hotline at 310-825-0768.

Senior Staff

Sekar is a senior staff reporter for the national news and higher education beat. She was previously the 2018-2019 assistant news editor for the national and higher education beat and a news contributor before that. Sekar is a third-year political science and economics student and enjoys dogs, dancing, and dessert.


Sports editor

Connon is the Sports editor and a reporter on the football and men's basketball beats. He was previously an assistant Sports editor for the baseball, men's soccer, women's golf, men's golf and cross country beats and a reporter on the baseball and women's basketball beats. Connon also currently contributes movie reviews for Arts & Entertainment. Connon is a third-year Communication student from Winchester, Massachusetts.

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  • Stan Williams

    Perhaps UCLA needs to invest more effort in preparing their basketball players for a life outside of dribbling a basketball. When every UCLA player thinks he will be the next Lebron James, someone needs to talk some reality and common sense into their heads. UCLA should start by reminding all of its players that they have better odds of winning the lottery than they do getting rich off of a career in the NBA.