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September 14, 2017

'Prince of North Philly,' former hoops star, nears fateful trial date

A former NBA prospect from North Philadelphia will head to trial next week in a case that could make or break the rest of his life.

Rysheed Jordan, the Robert Vaux High School graduate who went on to star as a point guard for St. Johns University, has been incarcerated at the Philadelphia Industrial Correctional Center for the last 16 months. 

The 23-year-old basketballer, locally hailed as the "Prince of North Philly," had left St. Johns early amid academic struggles and returned home for a brief stint with the Delaware 87ers, the Sixers' developmental affiliate. 

He was extended a tryout to catch back on with them the same day police announced he would be charged with attempted murder and related offenses in connection with an armed robbery in May 2016. 

Investigators said the robbery occurred in Brewerytown on Memorial Day weekend. Jordan and a friend were allegedly parked in a gold sedan outside the Athletic Recreation Center, less than half a mile away from Jordan's home address, in the 1400 block of N. 26th St. 

When two men approached the vehicle to purchase marijuana, police said Jordan and his friend brandished firearms and demanded they turn over their money and cellphones. 

Jordan and his friend fired numerous shots as the two men fled, police allege. A Philadelphia Housing Authority officer, stationed around 33rd Street and Girard Avenue, later encountered a 23-year-old victim suffering from a gunshot wound to the right arm. The victim said he was injured during an armed robbery that matched the description of a scene riddled with casings and a vehicle dotted with bullet holes. 

Days after the incident, Jordan was arrested on weapons charges after allegedly running a red light near Temple University. Police said he fled, left his green Jaguar and allegedly threw a loaded handgun over a fence into an adjacent yard. 


Jordan's precipitous fall from NBA-level talent to inmate was recounted last week in a lengthy feature at Bleacher Report, whose Reid Forgrave paid him a visit at the city jail to get caught up on his case. 

Once a recruiting prospect ranked above the likes of Joel Embiid and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Jordan and others close to him describe what happened to him as a case study in the violence that has plagued his neighborhood for decades. 

Tony Chiles, Jordan's recruiter at St. Johns, explained to Bleacher Report that continual news of violent and medical tragedies affecting Jordan's family dragged him down. He lost a cousin and an aunt to shootings and would drive home to Philadelphia regularly to attend to his mother, who was recovering from open heart surgery during his freshman year at St. Johns. 

"If this kid could just have had a six-month run where nothing would go wrong in his life, he could be rich beyond his wildest imagination," Chiles said. "He would have been a borderline lottery pick."

Jordan now feels lucky to have landed a job cleaning the jail's gym, an occupation that gives him a chance to work out and shoot hoops when he's not in his cell. 

Amina Robinson, Jordan's mother, hopes her son will be shown leniency and given a chance to walk free on one condition: He leaves Philadelphia. 

"There's nothing here for him in Philadelphia," Robinson told Bleacher Report. "So much violence, so many people getting killed."

Jordan, for his part, echoed that sentiment. 

"If God gives me another chance, I'm going to go far, far away."

A trial in Jordan's case is set to begin September 20. If convicted on the charge of attempted murder, he faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in jail. 

The full story at Bleacher Report, which delves into Jordan's pressured upbringing and the aspirations of his younger brother,  is well worth the read here