Devoted to his family and childhood friends, the missing and eventual death of former NBA star Lorenzen Vern-Gagne Wright confounded the Memphis Police for years.
His death was shocking because Wright was a hometown hero and the prince of the court in Memphis. Starting out in the University of Memphis, Wright’s skill as a baller was noticed so he became the seventh overall draft pick in the 1996 NBA by the Los Angeles Clippers.
Enter Sherra Wright-Robinson, daughter of one of his youth coaches who was five years older than him. Together they produced six children although the death of their seventh daughter through infant death syndrome hurt Wright badly. He established a scholarship in her name and got involved in philanthropy.
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As a father, Lorenzen Wright was dedicated to his kids but he was also a philanderer, a situation which frustrated his wife Sherra.
He played for various teams before landing at the Memphis Grizzlies, where he was swarmed at various points for autographs and photo opportunities. He would go on to play for the Atlanta Hawks, Sacramento Kings and Cleveland Cavaliers too.
In 13 years in the NBA, Wright is said, according to court documents, to have made $55 million but by the time he was done in the NBA, he was broke and had two expensive houses up for foreclosure. Creditors were also after them.
Childhood friend Michael Gibson said Wright’s key problem was that he was a giver “who gave to anyone who gave out a hand.”
His marriage to Sherra would end in divorce. And according to Gibson, he had planned moving from Atlanta as he was missing the kids. It was not to be as Marc Perrusquia – journalist for The Commercial Appeal, the daily newspaper in Memphis, Tennessee – noted that while the 911 call was made from his phone with about 10 to 11 gunshot fired, the Germantown 911 dispatch center failed to triangulate the call to determine the location, neither were the Memphis police informed about the shooting incident when they tried using an iPhone to find the location of the shooting and failed. Wright went missing on July 18, 2010.
It will take nine days before the Memphis Police will get informed and when they traced the 911 call to a meadow, Lorenzen Wright’s decomposing body was found with two sets of shell casing indicative that at least two firearms were used.
Sherra Wright claimed Lorenzen left her place with a box of drugs and a man she didn’t recognize. The press claimed Wright was tangled with a local drug cartel. The case had gone cold.
It would take five years after the murder for a break to be found. Sherra Wright-Robinson had authored a book ‘Mr. Tell Me Anything’ based on the character of a cheating NBA player eerily similarly to her former husband.
When Perrusquia interviewed her about the supposed fictional book, she stated she had contemplated suicide over Lorenzo’s infidelities. On whether she murdered or had someone murder Lorenzo, she answered “I’m a mother and author.”
Curiously Sherra had become a deacon or better still, an associate pastor at the Mt. Olive M.B. Church. It didn’t stop her from claiming the one million plus life insurance policy on Lorenzo and squandering it in a year. In 2014, Wright-Robinson agreed to a confidential settlement of a dispute in Circuit Court over how she spent the $1 million of insurance money meant to benefit their six children.
But it will take two years more before F.B.I. divers would search the Walnut Mississippi Lake for five continuous days recovering a gun linked to a pastor at Sherra’s church, Billy R. Turner. He was arrested as was Sherra Wright-Robinson. The gun was found on November 9, 2017 and on December 5, 2017, Billy R. Turner was indicted on first-degree murder charges and held on $1 million bond.
In December 2017, seven years after his death, Wright’s ex-wife Sherra Wright-Robinson was charged with his murder; a year and a half later she pleaded guilty.
On July 25, 2019, Wright-Robinson pleaded guilty to facilitation of first-degree murder in the shooting death of Lorenzen Wright and was sentenced to 30 years in prison.