Former NFL running back Lawrence Phillips was back in the news today. Trying to avoid what would be potentially a 20-year prison term in the can for assault by contesting a guilty plea he made in another case, Phillips had his sentencing postponed again Thursday. This was the sixth time he'd had the sentencing delayed. What was the conviction for, you ask?
Oh yes, he was convicted of seven counts of assault with a deadly weapon. That deadly weapon was a car: in August 2005 he drove onto a field near Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, striking two boys, ages 14 and 15, and a 19-year-old man, who suffered cuts and bruises. His car narrowly missed four other people. And this was all because he was upset over losing a pickup football game with the youths.
To make things worse Phillips is trying to withdraw his 2000 guilty plea for hitting his girlfriend at the time. He claims he was coerced into pleading guilty. Looks like he got more of the bad cop in the interrogation room...
The reason for this? California's Three Strikes Law. In this game, strike three really means you're out - you get life in jail. The guilty plea from 2000 would be his first strike (the previous dragging his girlfriend down a flight of stairs doesn't count as a strike). His "taking his anger out on a bunch of kids who beat him at a pickup game in a sport he used to play professionally" crime (also defined above as assault with a deadly weapon) would make his second strike, and therefore double the maximum sentence to 20 years.
If all goes bad, Phillips could soon be facing his third strike. On top of all of these, he's also awaiting trial on charges he struck his live-in girlfriend in San Diego and strangled her into unconsciousness in 2005. I just hope it wasn't the same girlfriend as the 2000 incident.
This is just another example of a promising athlete squandering a career (and life) by foolish actions. It's one thing not to make it as an athlete. It's a hard thing to do, and few really make it. But it's another thing not to make it as a person. That's inexcusable.
Phillips is using a public defender for all of these cases...and let's just say he'll be getting his money's worth.