NBA

Grizzlies coach Jenkins says death of Tyre Nichols has 'hit us hard'

By Sports Desk January 28, 2023

Memphis Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins said his team have been deeply affected following the death of fan Tyre Nichols.

Nichols, 29, died on January 10, three days after he was beaten by five police officers after a traffic stop in Memphis, Tennessee.

The five officers have been sacked and charged with second-degree murder, assault, kidnapping, official misconduct and official oppression. 

Police have released bodycam and CCTV footage of the incident, in which Nichols can be heard protesting his innocence and calling for his mother.

The footage was released just prior to the Grizzlies' meeting with the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday.

Before the game, Jenkins told Bally Sports: "It's been tough being on the road, not being home.

"I wish I could extend my arms through this camera right now to the family. They're going through a lot.

"The senseless loss of life for Tyre Nichols has really hit us hard."

Nichols' mother, RowVaughn Wells, said in an interview that she felt "sorry" for the officers who killed her son.

"People don’t know what those five police officers did to our family. And they really don’t know what they did to their own families. They have put their own families in harm's way," she said.

"They have brought shame to their own families. They brought shame to the Black community. I just feel sorry for them. I really do. Because they didn't have to do this.

"They had beat him to a pulp. He had bruises all over. His head was swollen like a watermelon. His neck was busting because of the swelling. They broke his neck. His nose was like an S.

"They actually just beat the crap out of him, so when I saw him, I knew my son was gone. Even if he did live he would have been a vegetable."

Wells said he cried after seeing the interview, though disclosed after Friday's 111-100 defeat that he had not watched the disturbing footage of the arrest and subsequent beating.

"There's way harder things on in the city versus what's going on with our basketball right now," Jenkins told reporters.

"I'm proud of our guys going out there. We're playing with heavy hearts, but we're also playing for our city that's going through a lot right now.

"My words will only mean so much. I want to continue to encourage people to put their arms around each other.

"To put their arms around the Nichols family, the Wells family to remember a beautiful life in Tyre Nichols – who I did not know, but I'm learning about.

"Our guys are still grappling with everything going on. We have been just getting all the updates over the last couple of days on this road trip.

"No one's been able to see the video but we do know of a tragedy that's taking place and just trying to grapple with that so there's still ongoing dialogues; everything's on the table to how we want to support our city, support the Nichols family."

Nichols' death has echoes of the murder of George Floyd, who died in police custody in Minneapolis in 2020, sparking civil rights protests and riots in the United States and many other nations.

The Grizzlies were among several NBA teams to release statements, with Memphis saying they were "distraught to find ourselves dealing with a needless loss of life due to police brutality". 

An NBA statement read: "The images of Tyre Nichols' life needlessly cut short are horrifying.

"While there have been steps toward accountability in this instance, the NBA family remains committed to partnering with advocates, policymakers and law enforcement to work toward solutions to the issues we continue to face."

Memphis police chief Cerelyn Davis said there was a "disregard of basic human rights" and called the officers' actions "heinous, reckless and inhumane".

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