Ex-Laker Darius Morris died of heart disease; cocaine played a role, medical examiner says



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Former Lakers and Clippers guard Darius Morris died at age 33 of coronary artery disease, although the “effects of cocaine, hydrocodone and ethanol” played a role, according to a report by the Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner.

Morris, who played for the Lakers alongside his mentor Kobe Bryant after starring at Windward High in Mar Vista and the University of Michigan, was found dead May 2 by a Los Angeles-area apartment manager doing a welfare check.

The death was ruled an accident by the medical examiner. The last time Morris was known to be alive was April 22, when he spoke to his mother and complained of flu-like symptoms, the medical examiner’s report said. Foul play was not suspected.

In February, his father, Dewayne Morris Sr., and older brother, Dewayne Morris Jr., were found guilty of conspiracy and three counts of bank fraud following a jury trial in federal court. Dewayne Jr. also was found guilty of witness tampering.

Sentencing was postponed from June 3 until Aug. 5 in federal district court in San Diego for the judge to review three separate motions requesting a new trial filed by Anthony E. Colombo, the lawyer representing Dewayne Morris Jr. Columbo said Tuesday that he will file a fourth motion by Friday.

Colombo asserts that exculpatory material in the government’s possession pertaining to a cooperating witness was not shared with the defendants during trial. Colombo also said that if the motion is denied, he will appeal the case following sentencing.

Dewayne Sr., a career U.S. Postal Service supervisor based in Venice and Marina del Rey, was accused of obtaining thousands of postal money orders worth up to $5.1 million and Dewayne Jr. of fraudulently depositing them in bank accounts then withdrawing the cash.

Colombo said that Darius Morris had “absolutely no connection or involvement whatsoever in the case. I found him to be pleasant and a gentleman each time I met with him.”

Darius Morris was remembered for his exuberant personality and radiant smile. He led Windward to a CIF state Division V championship and was named CIF Southern Section player of the year in 2009. He scored 13 of his game-high 25 points in the fourth quarter of the state final.

He went on to set assist records at Michigan before being selected by the Lakers in the second round of the 2011 NBA draft.

In the 2012-13 season, the Lakers made the playoffs and faced the San Antonio Spurs despite injuries to Bryant (torn Achilles’ tendon) and point guard Steve Nash (broken leg). Morris came off the bench in the first two games and started Games 3 and 4 after guard Steve Blake was sidelined with a hamstring injury.

Although the Lakers lost, Morris had 24 points and six assists in Game 3 matched up against All-Star guard Tony Parker. In Game 4, he contributed six assists along with eight points.

“Darius was an absolutely super nice guy, he always had a smile,” said Mike Bresnahan, The Times’ Lakers beat writer for 12 years who now is a Lakers analyst for Spectrum SportsNet.

“What I appreciated was that when he made it to the NBA he decided he was going to enjoy every minute of it. He was going to have fun. Darius never forgot that part of it.”



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