Anthony Grundy, the former N.C. State basketball star who traveled the world playing professionally, was sentenced to two years in prison Tuesday after pleading guilty to driving while impaired and violating the terms of his probation for previous drunken driving convictions.
Wake County District Court Judge Louis Meyer also ordered the former all-ACC performer to undergo alcohol abuse treatment while serving his sentence.
Grundy, 38, arrived in the United States last month from Ghana, West Africa, where he had been living for little more than three years. He came to resolve a case where he had been charged with failing to appear in court six years ago for felony habitual impaired driving, five misdemeanor counts of failing to appear in court and two misdemeanor counts of probation violation.
In Courtroom 301 at the Wake County Public Justice Center on Tuesday, Grundy’s felony charge was dismissed and he pleaded guilty to driving while impaired. Sheriff’s deputies then escorted Grundy to Courtroom 304, where he pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor probation violations.
Grundy’s attorney, E. Lee Turner of Raleigh, said the 24-month sentence will automatically get cut in half. Along with the 25 days Grundy has already spent in jail, Turner said the basketball player will spend a little more than 11 months behind bars “and be able to move on with his life.”
Grundy will undergo alcohol rehabilitation at DART Cherry, a 300-bed residential treatment program in Goldsboro.
“He will be there for 90 days as soon as they have a bed available,” Turner said.
Grundy was charged with being a habitual impaired driver on Feb. 2, 2011, during a traffic stop in Wake County. He had three prior DWI convictions and a pending charge in Wake at the time of that traffic stop.
Grundy was scheduled to appear in court on Feb. 24, 2011 for the habitual impaired driving charge. He did not show, and a warrant for his arrest was issued the following day.
When Grundy arrived in the United States on Sept. 22 this year, he was taken into custody at the Kew Gardens Courthouse in Queens, N.Y. He arrived in Raleigh on Oct. 6 and was held in custudy at the Wake County jail in lieu of a $1,135,000 bail .
Grundy, outfitted in a wrinkled orange and white-striped jail jump suit, said little during the brief hearing Tuesday.
“Thank you very much your honor,” he said to Meyer before a bailiff led him out of the courtroom.
Mark Stevens, the Wake prosecutor, called the prison sentence a “fall from grace.”
“I don’t know what he’s been doing in recent years, but he had a bad run for a long time,” said Stevens, who agreed that Grundy might benefit from alcohol treatment. “He needs to find out what the underlying issue is.”
Turner spoke to Grundy after the hearing and described him as relieved, albeit unhappy about the prospect of going to prison.
“He said he felt like the world had been taken off his shoulders,” Turner said. “He wants to get this behind him. He wants to try and live a productive life now and help others in similar situations.”
Grundy was named to the all-ACC first team in 2002 during his senior at N.C. State. He signed a 10-day contract with the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks and played 12 games during the 2005-06 season. Grundy traveled overseas in 2007 and played the next six years for teams in Italy, Greece, the Philippines, Turkey and Iran.
“He would be signed as a free agent and would play for a short time, three or four months, to help the team out,” Turner said. “Then he would go about his business until the next time.”
Grundy’s final stop on the international basketball circuit was in Morocco, where he played in the 2013-14 season. In 2014, he moved to Ghana, where he had been living until last month.
Turner said Grundy did not play basketball in Ghana. Instead, he earned his keep as a laborer working on farms and unloading boats. He contracted malaria in early 2016 and endured a relapse of the illness last fall.
“It was a terrible life he was living over there,” Turner said. “He would call me from time to time and ask, ‘what’s going to happen to me if I come back?’ I gave him the same answer each time.”
Turner said Grundy hopes he can earn “two or three” credit hours toward the 22 credit hours he needs to earn a degree from N.C. State, or someplace else.
“He finally did it. I’m glad he did,” Turner said about Grundy’s decision to confront his legal troubles. “He’s one of the most pleasant young men I have ever met.”
Thomasi McDonald: 919-829-4533, @thomcdonald