Former USC star Kevin Porter Jr.’s problems predate the alleged assault that fractured his girlfriend’s vertebra

By | September 14, 2023

The Houston Rockets guard Kevin Porter Jr. in a game against the Detroit Pistons.
Kevin Porter Jr. of the Houston Rockets in a game against the Detroit Pistons on March 31. The former USC star was charged with assault and strangulation. (Michael Wyke/Associated Press)

Kevin Porter Jr.’s immense talent hid his problems away from the basketball court for so long. His latest accident threatens to damage his NBA career.

The former USC star was arrested on charges of assaulting his girlfriend, a former WNBA player Kysre Gondrezickfracturing the vertebra in her neck and leaving her with a deep gash above her right eye during an attack Monday morning at the Millennium Hilton in New York, according to authorities.

Porter, a Houston Rockets swingman who signed a four-year, $82.5 million contract extension a year ago, pleaded not guilty to assault and strangulation charges at his arraignment Tuesday.

“This is a serious case of domestic violence,” Mirah Curzer, an assistant district attorney in Manhattan, told the judge.

Curzer also said Porter has a history of abusing Gondrezick, including an incident in which he allegedly rammed his car into hers. Porter and Gondrezick have been dating since early 2022, according to his February social media post that marked their one-year anniversary together.

To know more: USC’s Kevin Porter Jr. chases his NBA dream of honoring a father he barely knew

According to a criminal complaint obtained by The Associated Press, Gondrezick told police that Porter repeatedly punched her in the face, causing a deep cut and bruises above her right eye. She also alleged that he put his hands around her neck, causing bruises and fracturing her vertebra.

“We are aware of the news regarding Kevin Porter Jr.,” NBA spokesman Mike Bass said. “The league office is in contact with the Houston Rockets and is gathering more information.”

Porter’s off-court issues date back to his freshman season at USC in 2019.

He was suspended indefinitely during the Trojans’ trip to play Oregon State and Oregon for undisclosed conduct issues.

“The last thing you want to do as a head coach is suspend any of your players, but when there are conduct issues, we have no choice,” USC coach Andy Enfield said at the time.

To know more: USC suspends Kevin Porter Jr. indefinitely, ends trip with loss to Oregon

Porter missed just two games before Enfield reinstated him in time to contribute to the Trojans’ blowout victory over Arizona. However, Porter went from being a lottery pick to No. 30 overall in the NBA draft that spring, to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

He lasted just one season before being traded to the Rockets. Before the start of training camp, Porter was accused of punching a woman in the face and grabbing her weave in downtown Cleveland, according to police reports.

A few months later, Porter was involved in an automobile accident and charged with improper handling of a firearm in a motor vehicle, failure to control a motor vehicle, and possession of marijuana, charges that were ultimately dismissed.

Soon after, he threw a tantrum in the locker room following the acquisition of a new player, resulting in Porter’s locker being moved. This led to a confrontation with general manager Koby Altman and a trade to the Rockets for a second-round pick.

While his play improved in Houston — he averaged 17 points and six assists per game over the past three seasons — his behavior remained questionable.

To know more: LeBron James among those criticizing broadcaster’s “triggering” comment about Kevin Porter Jr.’s father.

In April 2021, the NBA fined Porter $50,000 for violating the league’s COVID-19 health and safety rules. visit a strip club in Miamiwhere he and teammate Sterling Brown got into an altercation with other men in the parking lot.

In January 2022, the The rockets suspended Porter after then-coach Stephen Silas said the player had a “lively argument” and “lost his temper” at halftime, “to the point where I thought what would be best for the team and our culture as a group, and just making sure we’re all on the same page, I thought it would be better for him to be suspended for today’s game.”

The difficult journey Porter took to get to USC and become an NBA star was uplifting. His father – no relation to Kevin Porter who played in the NBA from 1973 to 1983 – was shot and killed in a South Seattle bar when Porter Jr. was 4 years old.

His mother raised him, and his reputation grew as his left-handed shot and unusual athleticism became evident. His coach at Rainier Beach High in Seattle, Mike Bethea, had also coached Porter’s father, and although Porter Jr. was suspended more than once, the two bonded and the player became a top prospect.

This led to his only season at USC, marked by injuries, questionable behavior and occasional brilliance. Porter also listened to those who questioned his maturity and preparation for the NBA and vowed to realize his potential.

“This is my dream, so I pay attention,” Porter told the Times’ J. Brady McCullough in 2019. “I’m not going to be the one who says I don’t worry. I want to be able to feed my family and my mother will never have to work again. To be honest, I pay a lot of attention to what people say about me.”

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This story originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.

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