Gophersâ€™ Mbakwe gets more probation
OCT 19, 2012 2:27p ET
Miami-Dade judge Jose Fernandez on Friday gave Mbakwe an additional two years of probation for a July DUI charge he pleaded guilty to in Minneapolis last month.
Fernandez warned Mbakwe, 23, of future slip-ups.
"You're not a cat; you don't have nine lives," Fernandez told Mbakwe at the hearing. "You're going to do something, and it's going to be the end of any chances you have. This may be it; this may be your last chance."
The Minneapolis Star Tribune reported that Mbakwe's attorney, Gregory Samms, asked the judge for four extra years of probation in addition to the probation Mbakwe was given when he was charged with felony assault in Miami in 2009 after transferring from Marquette University to Miami Dade College. He later pleaded guilty to violating a restraining order in 2011 when he contacted an ex-girlfriend in St. Paul via a Facebook message. His Minnesota probation from that incident, according to the Star Tribune, is set to expire in December.
On Friday, Fernandez decided on two years of probation, as well as 20 hours of community service per month during that time. The Star Tribune says Samms told the judge Mbakwe, who was suspended by the Gophers over the summer but has since been reinstated, is in Alcoholics Anonymous and suffering from depression. He must attend AA meetings three times per week and stay away from the victim of the 2009 crime.
According to the Star Tribune, Fernandez said Mbakwe is "still amenable to treatment" and has "the ability to turn around."
"I've been thinking about this since July 1," Mbakwe said at the hearing, according to the Star Tribune. "It's been stressing me and my family out, and I'm glad it's over. ... I'm just going to stay on the right track now; no more slip-ups. The judge gave me another chance, and I'm grateful for that. ... I'm just going to show everybody they were right in supporting me."
Mbakwe pleaded guilty to the DUI charge on Sept. 10 and was sentenced to 30 days in a Hennepin County workhouse, with two days served and 28 days stayed. At the time, he was also given 16 hours of community service and a one-year supervised probation, as well as a $300 fine.
Mbakwe missed all but seven games in 2011-12 after tearing his ACL in the Gophers' game against Dayton. Two seasons ago, he led the Big Ten in rebounding with 10.5 boards per game and also averaged 13.9 points.
Last week, Mbakwe said he is fully recovered from his knee surgery. After tearing his ACL, he weighed his options of returning for a sixth year of eligibility or turning pro, but he ultimately decided to come back to Minnesota for one more season.
The university declined comment on Friday's sentencing but issued this statement from Mbakwe:
"I can't say it enough, but I am extremely grateful that I have been given another chance. I realize that this has been a trying experience for many, including the Gopher Nation. I want to thank my family, Coach Smith and many others at the University of Minnesota for standing by me. I am glad that I have the opportunity to put this behind me and move on."
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