Early was leaving a strip club at around 4:15 a.m. when he was confronted by a group of people wearing ski masks who robbed him of his personal belongings and shot him once in the right knee.
The Daily News reports that Early had surrendered his belongings—including cash and gold chains—before being shot. This sequence of events is a crucial point, according to SI legal analyst Michael McCann.
“If Early had already given the assailants what they wanted and then they shot him,” McCann said, “it suggests the shooting was an intentional attempt to inflict lethal force on Early and not an inadvertent firing during a robbery. The assailants will likely face attempted murder charges as a result, among other charges.”
Early, 24, was taken to a local hospital following the attack and was in stable condition. A hospital spokeswoman told the Wall Street Journal that Early was released some time Wednesday morning. Yahoo’s Shams Charania reports an MRI revealed no structural damage, the bullet went straight through, and that Early will not need surgery on his knee. According to Charania, Early’s expected timetable for recovery is six to 12 weeks. Contrary to the hospital’s statement, Charania reports Early remains in the hospital as of Wednesday evening.
The wound is in Early’s right knee, the Daily News reports, the same knee he had arthroscopic surgery on last season.
The Knicks released the following statement in response to the incident:
“We are aware of what occurred with Cleanthony Early this morning and are relieved that he is not in a life-threatening situation. We will not comment any further until we receive more information.”
Several of Early’s current and former teammates posted messages of support on social media.
Drafted by the Knicks in 2014, Early has played in 10 games in his second season with the team, averaging 0.7 points and 3.4 minutes per game. He played in only 39 games last season after missing two months to recover from arthroscopic surgery in his right knee.
Early posted a message to Twitter on Wednesday night thanking people for their support.
- Erin Flynn