Ex-Nugget Ty Lawson's Life Has Gone to Hell, But He Won't Be Jailed for DUI

It wasn't long ago that Ty Lawson was the face of the Denver Nuggets, who promoted him as one of the premier point guards in the NBA.

Now, he's barely playing for his third team in less than a year — and he's just been convicted of driving under the influence.

The only good news for Lawson: He avoided jail time, which prosecutor Chris Curtis wanted because, in his words, "Mr. Lawson thinks this is no big deal."

We've documented Lawson's downward spiral in this space over the past few years.

Back in 2013, as we've reported, Lawson was arrested on suspicion of pushing his pregnant girlfriend, Ashley Pettiford.

The case was ultimately dismissed, but not before the wide circulation of these images.

Then, in January 2015, Lawson was busted again in Denver.

The charges: speeding, careless driving and what was described as a "second-offense DUI," with the first arrest said to have taken place in Missouri.

But this accounting skipped yet another driving-under-the-influence arrest in 2008, when he was a twenty-year-old student at the University of North Carolina.

Whatever the case, Lawson found himself in front of another booking photographer:

Adding to the embarrassment — the discovery that Lawson had devoted a 2014 episode of his YouTube series Life of Ty to the Lyft ridesharing service, which he clearly should have been using on the day in question. We've included that clip below.

In a column, the Denver Post's Benjamin Hochman declared that Lawson's arrest offered a valuable lesson. However, it's one he plainly hasn't learned.

As noted by TMZ, Lawson was busted for DUI in Los Angeles circa last July.

His bail was reportedly set at $5,000 — so it was a lucky thing he was said to have been carrying $6,000 in cash.

By then, of course, everyone knew Lawson was on his way out of Denver — including him.

The previous month, Lawson was livestreaming a broadcast during the NBA draft when the Nuggets selected guard Emmanuel Mudiay, who commentators and fans alike immediately recognized as Ty's replacement.

Lawson's reaction to the pick? "I told you. I'm going to Sacramento, bro," he said.

His assumption made sense, given that Sacramento's coach, George Karl, had helmed the Nuggets and liked Lawson. But in the end, the Houston Rockets pulled the trigger, offering far more than could have been expected following the second DUI — an incident that made Denver even more desperate than before to jettison him.

The compensation, as reported by Yahoo! Sports: Kostas Papanikolaou, Pablo Prigioni, Joey Dorsey, Nick Johnson and a provisional 2016 first-round draft pick.

But Lawson's stay in Houston didn't turn out to be a happy one. He lasted only 53 days before the Rockets cut him loose — and while he was picked up by the Indiana Pacers, he's hardly played, owing to a foot injury, among other factors. According to ESPN, he's appeared in just two of the last ten games for an average of ten minutes and three points per contest.

And then came his sentencing for the Denver DUI; a police report included here reveals that he was pulled over for driving 61 miles per hour in a 35 MPH zone and exhibited slurred speech, the scent of alcohol on his breath, bloodshot eyes and a poor sense of balance that caused him to fail a roadside sobriety test.

His punishment, according to the Denver District Attorney's Office: "One year of probation with monitored sobriety, 48 hours of community service, 52 hours of alcohol education and treatment. He must also pay fines and court costs of $1,571."

Will these wrist-slaps get Lawson's attention? Too soon to tell. But if they don't, he could find himself out of the NBA entirely — another example of a promising athlete who let personal problems destroy a once-promising career.

Look below to see two videos: the Life of Ty segment promoting Lyft and an excerpt from the livestream when he reacted to the Nuggets' draft pick. They're followed by the probable cause statement in his January 2015 DUI arrest.

Ty Lawson Probable Cause Statement

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts