NCAA

The Tragic Death of Former UCLA Basketball Player Billy Knight, Who Died By Suicide

Billy Knight was a former overseas professional basketball player. Before playing overseas, he played college basketball at UCLA. Knight spent five years at UCLA and became one of the team’s top players in his last season.

After his time at UCLA, he played in multiple different countries and had success throughout his career. In 2018, tragedy struck for Knight.

Billy Knight developed into a significant player at UCLA

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Knight was a native of LA, and he attended Westchester High School. During his early years of high school, Knight played the center position but transitioned into a shooting guard by the end of his high school career. As a senior, he was one of the country’s top shooters, and he decided to commit to UCLA.

Knight spent five years at UCLA and played a reserve role in his first few years there. As a freshman, he appeared in 24 games and averaged 2.8 points. The next season he redshirted. As a redshirt sophomore, Knight saw an improvement in his production. He averaged 5.4 points and 2.1 rebounds per game. During his redshirt junior season, he appeared in 32 games and made 18 starts for the Bruins. That season he averaged 7.9 points and 1.9 rebounds.

His redshirt senior year was his best season at UCLA. Knight started all 33 games and averaged a career-high 14.1 and 3.5 rebounds. He made significant improvements during his time at UCLA, and during his final year, he was one of the team’s top players. 

Billy Knight started his professional career after college

Many players don’t make it to the NBA after their college careers. Most players pursue a career playing overseas, and that’s what Knight did. Knight played overseas from 2002 to 2016. He spent time playing in France, Venezuela, and Japan. Knight also spent time playing in the U.S. during his career, playing with semi-pro teams. 

During the 2009-10 season, Knight played for the Hamamatsu Higashimikawa Phoenix in Japan and helped the team to their first bj title. He was the third-leading scorer on the team, averaging 19.6 points. Knight was part of another championship team during the 2012-13 season as he led the Hyogo Storks to their first Japan Basketball League title. His professional career came to an end after the 2015-16 season as he played for the Yamagata Wyverns of the Japanese B. League.

Tragedy struck for Billy Knight in 2018

Two years after his professional career ended, Knight went through some hard times. In June of 2018, he was arrested on six counts of molestation charges, including two sexual conduct counts with a minor, according to ESPN. The court documents stated that the alleged incidents occurred on or between April 1, 2017, and March 31, 2018. According to Phoenix’s KTAR, the child was the 9-year-old daughter of Knight’s ex-girlfriend.

Knight ended up allegedly admitting to the allegations during a recorded phone call with the victim’s mother and Phoenix police. Almost a month after he was arrested, Knight was found and pronounced dead by the Phoenix Fire Department. The Maricopa County medical examiner’s office ruled Knight’s death a suicide. Shortly before he died by suicide, he posted a video to YouTube talking about his mental illness and apologizing for what he did. In the video, he also encouraged others with mental illness to seek help. Knight died at the age of 39.