Seven years ago, former NBA all-star Nick Van Exel received some tragic news as a parent. Van Exel’s son, Nickey Maxwell Van Exel, was sentenced to 60 years in prison in the shooting death of a longtime friend.
The only thing on Nick Van Exel’s mind at the time was his son. At that time, Nick was a player development coach for the Atlanta Hawks, but he had something way more serious to deal with than basketball.
Taking a look at Nick Van Exel’s basketball career
Van Exel spent 13 seasons playing in the NBA, and after his playing career was over, he got into coaching. As a player, Van Exel was one of the best guards in the league. He started his career playing for the Lakers. Van Exel was a starter as a rookie and averaged 13.6 points and 5.8 assists per game. He was named to the All-Rookie Second Team in 1994.
He was the starting point guard for five seasons for a Lakers team that was rebuilding. Van Exel was a key part of those Lakers teams during his time there. After playing in L.A., Van Exel continued to excel in the starting role on other teams that he played for. During the 2001-02 season, he was playing for the Denver Nuggets, and through 45 games, he averaged 21.4 points per game, which was the most in his career. He would later be traded to the Dallas Mavericks that same season.
Van Exel only had one season in which he did not average double digits in scoring during the 2005-06 season, which was his final season in the NBA. He played for the San Antonio Spurs and averaged 5.5 points coming off the bench. Van Exel knew the ins and outs of the game very well, and he decided to stay involved in the game as a coach. He has been coaching since 2009 and has coached at the collegiate level, G-League level, and NBA level. The former guard has had one head coaching position, and that was with the Texas Legends in 2015. The rest of his roles have been as an assistant coach.
Nick Van Exel devastated about what happened to his son
While Van Exel was in Atlanta, working with the Hawks, he had to take time away from the team to be with his son. Nickey Van Exel fatally shot his close friend, Bradley Bassey Eyo in December 2010. After Nickey shot Eyo, he dumped his body in a lake outside of Dallas. Nickey’s attorney said that the two were playing with a shotgun at Nickey’s home, and he did not know that the gun was loaded.
In an ESPN article, it stated that Nick Van Exel broke down and started crying while speaking in court during the trial. “I’m really sorry to the Eyo family. Nobody should have to go through something like this. Nobody,” he said, as he looked at Eyo’s family members who were in the courtroom, the article states.
At the age of 22, Nickey was sentenced to 60 years in prison for the murder of his longtime friend. He will not be eligible for parole until he is 52. The former NBA player had to deal with the fact that his son killed someone and is serving time in prison for it.
Nickey Van Exel speaks out about the incident
In 2018, Nickey Van Exel spoke out about the incident for the first time since he was convicted. NBC 5 did a sit-down interview with Van Exel and talked to him about what happened that night. “It’s nothing like they tried to make it seem. They took it all out of perspective, all out of context,” Van Exel said in the interview with NBC 5.. “I had played with it before, and it was never loaded before … I didn’t know, and once I found out, it was too late.”
As a parent, you never want to hear something like this. For Nick Van Exel, it was a tough pill to swallow, hearing how long his son would be in prison. He never thought that his son would do something like that, and it was a tough situation for the former NBA all-star.