Pelicans guard Bryce Dejean-Jones reportedly breaking into wrong apartment when fatally shot _lowres

Associated Press photo by Tyler Kaufman -- Guard Bryce Dejean-Jones has complted the maximum allowable two 10-day contracts with the Pelicans and is waiting until after the trade deadline Thursday in hopes of a new deal.

Saturday was supposed to be one of those days Bryce Dejean-Jones would cherish for the rest of his life.

His daughter was turning 1 year old, and the Pelicans guard was in Dallas to celebrate the occasion.

Instead, tragedy struck in the wee hours of Saturday when Dejean-Jones was shot and killed at a Dallas apartment complex.

At 23, he’s gone way too soon. A father gone too soon for his daughter to get to know him.

And an NBA player gone too soon for Pelicans fans to ever know his full potential.

The police report said Dejean-Jones was shot after kicking in the door and entering an apartment.

According to a letter sent out by management of the apartment complex, Dejean-Jones was actually at the wrong apartment and was looking for one that belonged to an “estranged acquaintance.”

A source told The New Orleans Advocate that the “estranged acquaintance” was his daughter’s mom, who actually lived one floor above where the shooting occurred.

Why Dejean-Jones was there we don’t know. We might not ever know.

But what we do know is that what appears to be poor judgment by Dejean-Jones will now cause his daughter to grow up without a father.

And it also means that for the second time in six weeks, the city of New Orleans mourns the death of one of its professional athletes.

Former Saints defensive lineman Will Smith was killed in New Orleans in April.

Dejean-Jones’ death didn’t rock the entire city quite like Smith’s death, but it was still a tough blow to the city.

Smith was a fan favorite in this city, one of the more popular players in Saints history.

Dejean-Jones was hoping to one day get to that point. Unlike Smith, he was a newcomer to the city, almost too new for any of us to really get to know him. Was he the guy we read about with the checkered past from his college?

Or was he the one we watched during his brief time with the Pelicans, the hard-working kid determined to make it in the NBA despite not being drafted out of Iowa State last summer?

It seemed to be the latter. Dejean-Jones joined the Pelicans in January and made the most of his first 10-day contract, playing well enough to get another one 10 days later. He did so well that he earned a three-year contract.

Heck, he even showed just how well he was fitting in with the Pelicans, breaking his right wrist and joining all the other injuries the team endured this season. It sidelined him for the remainder of the season, but he seemed to finally be settling in after bouncing around from college to college.

He started his college career in his hometown at Southern California before transferring to UNLV and Iowa State.

He reportedly left USC after breaking a teammates’ nose in a fight in the locker room. He had a similar incident at UNLV with former teammate Jelan Kendrick, who tweeted about his condolences after the death. “Rip #BDJ we had our differences but I had love for you and was proud of you!” Kendrick tweeted.

His troubles continued at Iowa State, where he was suspended for a game after being charged with a misdemeanor that was later dropped.

But what folks may not know about Dejean-Jones is that he had his master’s degree, according to his agent.

“I would say he was a guy who was misunderstood because he was quiet and didn’t speak out a lot,” said Scott Nichols, Dejean-Jones’ agent. “But the fact that he has a master’s degree lets you know that he was smarter than people think because they just read the reports about him leaving this school and that school.”

Dejean-Jones had been working hard in rehab from his wrist surgery, shooting 3-pointers with his left hand while the right wrist healed. He was going to start shooting and dribbling with his right hand this week.

The reality of it all still hadn’t sunk in yet for Nichols on Saturday afternoon. He still talked about his client in the present tense.

“All he really wants to do is play basketball,” Nichols said. “He doesn’t want to do the business stuff, the marketing stuff. He just wants to play basketball. That’s all he wants to do.”

Unfortunately, he’ll never get another chance.