Keon Clark, the former professional basketball player, was sentenced to eight years in prison on Wednesday after pleading guilty to weapons and driving under the influence charges stemming from several separate cases between 2012 and 2013.
Having been the 13th overall pick in the 1998 NBA draft, the 38-year-old Clark promised he was going to reform himself, as he reportedly gave a tearful address during his plea in hearing in Vermilion County Circuit Court.
"I, uh, did a lot of stuff in my past," the 6-foot-11 Clark told the court as tears streaming down his face the News-Gazette reported
. "I have to own up to it."
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Clark faced 10 weapons, drugs and driving-related charges in connection with one 2012 case and four 2013 cases, the News-Gazette reported.
Clark was arrested Oct. 18 after U.S. Marshals got a tip that he was on a bus leaving Houston. He was arrested on several Illinois charges, including not having a firearm owner's identification card and possession of a controlled substance. He had been in Texas at a drug and alcohol rehab clinic, according to court records.
Having acknowledged his long struggle with alcohol abuse that began while playing in the NBA and apparently worsened after he left in 2006, Clark said he's been receiving counseling while in custody, the Associated Press reported
''The money, the fame, the fact that I was on TV. People think money will make your life better. Money didn't dissolve my problems. It increased them,'' Clark said according to the AP.
In a 2007 interview with the Associated Press, Clark said "I never played a game sober, unfortunately."
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During his seven years in the NBA, Clark played on five different teams beginning with the Orlando Magic and ending with the Utah Jazz. He was traded to the Phoenix Suns in 2004 at the end of his NBA career, however did not play a single game for the team.
Clark addressed his supporters at one point during this week's hearing telling them that "It could've been a lot worse, [but] it's going to be a lot better."
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