By Anna Marie Hartman and Jarvis Greer
MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - Investigators discovered the body of missing Memphis basketball star Lorenzen Wright in Southeast Memphis Wednesday.
Wright's body was found in a wooded area adjacent to the Fieldstone Apartments, located off Hacks Cross Road and Winchester Road. He had been missing for more than a week.
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News of the discovery spread quickly late Wednesday afternoon, and crowds of Wright's friends from both on and off the court steadily grew.
Wright's mother, Deborah Marion, arrived at the scene Wednesday night with a handful of family members. She crossed the crime scene tape and tried to talk to police when she was told to move back. She sat in a TV van before returning to the tape. Two officers then let her through.
The distraught Marion then started running down the road toward the crime scene before being stopped by an officer. She spoke with officers, then walked back past reporters without speaking straight to a van.
Wright, 34, was last seen July 18 when he was expected to fly out of town. His family filed a missing person report on July 22.
Memphis Police Department spokesperson Alyssa Macon-Moore would only say officers were investigating an unidentified body.
"We are not releasing any additional details until next of kin is notified," Macon-Moore said.
Wright's cousin, Camella Logan, issued a statement late Wednesday evening.
"Lorenzen's family has come together to mourn his loss and honor his legacy," she said. "We appreciate your thoughts, prayers and condolences as they are comforting at this very difficult time. Additionally, we ask that you please respect our privacy as we try to cope with his sudden loss."
Former NBA colleague Elliot Perry said Wright's strength stood taller than his 6-11 body.
"I wanted to be here, really to pay homage and respect, particularly to his family," said Perry. "He defeated the odds and was able to fulfill his dreams by playing in the NBA."
Kevin Woods, Wright's fraternity brother, thought just as highly of him.
"We were just hopeful that the news would be good," Woods said. "He needed some time to himself. Not having talked to his family, we assumed the worst."
Wright began his career as a high school superstar at Booker T. Washington High School in South Memphis.
Many Memphis Tigers fans remembered Wright as the man in the middle who led the team to the Sweet 16 in 1995.
Wright then went on to be the seventh pick in the 1996 NBA Draft. Three years later, he was back in Memphis as a member of the Memphis Grizzlies.
Wright followed in the footsteps on another University of Memphis great, Anfernee "Penny" Hardaway.
Hardaway was at the scene when he learned the news of Wright's death.
"It's just a great loss for the city of Memphis and for his family at such an early age," Hardaway said. "It's just senseless. This isn't how you want to end up, in a field somewhere, and for what? It's just stupid, it's just a hurtful feeling and you wish his family the best."
Wright used his fame and influence to give back to the community. He founded a scholarship after the death of his infant daughter in March of 2003.
His high school later retired Wright's jersey. Wright turned around and bought the entire team new uniforms.