By AARON BEARD | AP
RALEIGH, N.C. -- Charlotte Hornets rookie P.J. Hairston says he and Cleveland Browns Pro Bowl receiver Josh Gordon decided to swap vehicles following a chance meeting at a grocery store. Gordon was arrested for driving while impaired in Hairston's 2015 Cadillac Escalade in Raleigh.
That random encounter brought together two athletes who have had their share of troubles.
Hairston said Thursday he was at a Chapel Hill hotel last week and went to the nearby store where he recognized Gordon and struck up a conversation. When they went outside, Hairston said, Gordon saw his SUV and asked to switch cars for a day.
"He had a Mercedes and I said, 'OK, let's switch,'" Hairston said after summer league practice in Charlotte. "I was just being generous. I have a thing for saying yes and felt like that wasn't a big deal. It was not like he was going to mess something up with my car if I had his car."
But Gordon was arrested for DWI on Saturday. Then a day later, a high school basketball player said Hairston punched him during a pickup game at a YMCA in nearby Durham, leading to an August court hearing for Hairston.
Gordon's agent Drew Rosenhaus declined comment Thursday. It remains unclear why Gordon, a Houston native, was in the state.
Hairston said he was not with Gordon when he was arrested.
But the incidents also revealed both Hairston and Gordon are tied to Durham felon and party promoter Haydn Patrick "Fats" Thomas, who was involved in Hairston's exit from the Tar Heels men's basketball program last year. And it was the kind of weekend both athletes would rather forget.
"I'm still growing up," Hairston said. "I still have a lot of growing up to do. In life, you make mistakes and it's something I will learn from again."
Gordon was released on $500 bond and records show it was paid by Thomas, who declined comment Thursday when reached by The Associated Press about his relationship with Gordon. Last year, authorities twice cited Hairston in Durham -- once leading to a later-dismissed misdemeanor marijuana possession charge -- while driving vehicles rented under Thomas' name or address.
Hairston missed the first 10 games before UNC decided not to seek his reinstatement from the NCAA due to several violations, ending his college career.