Michael Wright, a NBA draft pick for the New York Knicks and a former player for the University of Arizona Wildcats, was found murdered Tuesday. Police are now investigating whether the homicide could be related to a man Wright allegedly met via Grindr, the popular gay dating app, though they didn’t disclose who the man is, if Wright met up with more than one individual, and if an encounter actually took place or was merely arranged.
According the New York Daily News, Wright’s roommates at his “palatial home in Closter, New Jersey” had reported the athlete missing on Sunday night. Then on Tuesday, a police cruiser in Brooklyn found Wright’s Lexus; the 6'8'' athlete had been wrapped in black garbage bags and pushed into the back seat. No autopsy reports have been released but police believe he died from a skull fracture.
The Daily News spoke to Wright’s grieving family members, who described him as a “gentle giant.” But, Randolph Berry, his cousin, admitted the family knew little of Wright’s dating life.
“We don’t know anything about his personal life,” Berry, told the publication, perhaps because Wright had most recently been playing basketball outside the U.S. “All we know is that he did damage overseas. When he played ball, he destroyed everyone in front of him.”
USA Today reported that Wright was selected by the New York Knicks in the 2001 NBA draft “after he helped lead the Wildcats to the finals of the NCAA tournament, where Arizona lost to Duke. Wright didn't stick in the NBA, although he found success overseas, playing in Turkey, Poland, South Korea and other locales.”
Playing for Arizona between 1998-2001, reports the Chicago Tribune, Wright led his team to many victories. Though they “lost to Duke in the national championship game, they defeated Illinois in the Elite Eight. In the national final, Wright had 10 points and 11 rebounds. He was drafted by the Knicks in the second round of the 2001 NBA Draft. He never played in the NBA, but had a lengthy career overseas.”
Wright was not known publicly as a gay athlete, which is why speculation is rampant after police offered up Grindr as a clue.