The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Sports

December 5, 2013

Ex-Illini player gets 8-year sentence

DANVILLE, Ill. — Former University of Illinois and NBA player Keon Clark, who has said he is trying to turn his life around, was sentenced to eight years in prison Wednesday in a plea agreement with prosecutors on weapons and driving under the influence charges.

“I, uh, did a lot of stuff in my past,” Clark tearfully said at his plea hearing in Vermilion County Circuit Court, The News-Gazette reported. “I have to own up to it.”

Clark pleaded guilty to two charges in two separate cases and was given four years for each count. He previously faced weapon, drug and traffic-related charges.

The 38-year-old Danville native was 23 when he became the 13th overall pick in the 1998 NBA Draft. He last played for the Utah Jazz and Phoenix Suns.

Clark has spoken publicly of his long battle with alcohol, which he says also occurred during his NBA career. He now says he’s been sober for five months. He previously told the newspaper he wasn’t prepared mentally to handle the lifestyle of a professional athlete, and says he was already on a “destructive path.”

“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,” he said, adding that he’s been getting counseling while he’s in custody.

Clark has been in the Vermilion County jail since Aug. 4. Prosecutors said he would have to serve 50 percent of his sentence. He will receive credit for 138 days already served and must serve his sentences consecutively.

Clark’s defense attorneys requested that the judge recommend he serve time at an Illinois Department of Corrections drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility outside Chicago so he can continue treatment.

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