Bort Escoto coached former Sacramento Kings player Tyler Honeycutt at Sylmar High School from 2005 to 2009 and had remained friends with him and his family. He says that the NBA player’s behavior had made him increasingly concerned about his well-being in recent weeks. Escoto explained that Honeycutt “had been going through some things” and that he had decided to take some action the day he ended up in the deadly standoff with Los Angeles police.
The coach said that the 27-year-old had been calling him in the days before his death “and thanking me for all I’ve done for him.” He added that “He has been acting very unusual lately, and our conversations would leave me concerned for him” although it never occurred to him that he would take his own life.
Honeycutt had been playing basketball for the Eastern European Professional Basketball League since the Houston Rockets waived him in 2013. He was struggling with all the adjustments involved in moving from Los Angeles to Russia. He didn’t know the language or the country, and life in Russia was a challenge for him. Escoto said that he kept encouraging Honeycutt to get out and learn about where he was living and meet some people.
We are saddened by the news of Tyler Honeycutt’s passing. Our thoughts are with his loved ones at this difficult time. pic.twitter.com/ZbIpeyc9kH— UCLA Basketball (@UCLAMBB) July 7, 2018
KCRA3 reports that after speaking with Honeycutt and his mother, Escoto had planned to visit Honeycutt the day of the standoff that left him dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. That conversation had left him with the impression that Tyler “was burdened with something.” The player’s mother called him less than an hour after they spoke and told him that Honeycutt had a gun and “was acting crazy.” He told her to call 911.
Police were talking to Honeycutt when he shot his gun. They returned fire, beginning an hours-long standoff. Deadspin reports that Escoto communicated with him via text messages during the standoff. He would ask Honeycutt if he was okay, and Honeycutt would respond simply with, “K.” The coach said that he spoke with police about 10 p.m. that Friday night and was told that there had been no change. When police finally entered the home early Saturday morning, they found him dead with injuries consistent with a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Escoto received a message from Honeycutt’s mother about 4:45 a.m. telling him that Tyler had killed himself.
Escoto said the former NBA player was supposed to sign a contract with either Russia or Israel on the day of his death.