A Texas jury sentenced the son of former NBA player Nick Van Exel to 60 years in prison Friday in the shooting death of a longtime friend.
Nickey Maxwell Van Exel, 22, received the punishment after his father wept on the witness stand and apologized to the family of the victim, Bradley Bassey Eyo. The same jury in Dallas County in North Texas found the younger Van Exel guilty of murder on Thursday.
Prosecutors had sought a capital murder conviction.
Nickey Van Exel fatally shot Eyo in December 2010 and dumped his body at Lake Ray Hubbard on the eastern outskirts of Dallas. His attorney had said the two were playing with a shotgun at Nickey Van Exel’s Garland home and that Van Exel didn’t know the gun was loaded.
Nick Van Excel, who played 13 seasons in the NBA including a stint with the Dallas Mavericks and is now a player development instructor for the Atlanta Hawks, testified about the happy times he and his son spent together, including with Eyo.
He recalled the time that he took his son and Eyo to a 2006 NBA Finals game in Miami between the Heat and Mavericks.
”And they were about the only guys there cheering for the Dallas Mavericks,” he said. ”It’s dangerous when you go to an arena cheering for the other team.”
The elder Van Exel broke down at one point while speaking in court. He then apologized to Eyo’s family.
”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.