Robert Nkemdiche’s alleged foray onto the ledge of a Buckhead hotel Saturday night landed him on the concrete some 15 feet below.
Then at the hospital for stitches.
Then in jail.
Nkemdiche — the former Grayson High School football star, current Ole Miss All-American and future NFL draft pick — was charged with possession of less than an ounce of marijuana following the incident at the Grand Hyatt Atlanta on Peachtree Street. Atlanta police say they found “approximately seven rolled marijuana cigarettes” inside the fourth-floor room where they believe the 6-foot-4, 296-pound defensive tackle broke a window before crawling out and, one way or another, winding up bleeding on the ground.
“He doesn’t seem coherent,” a 911 caller said after spotting the scene from the hotel’s valet area. “He seems like he’s delirious.”
What exactly led to it all remained murky Monday — as did Nkemdiche’s status for his team’s Jan. 1 Sugar Bowl appearance.
“There’s no cut-and-dry answer to these deals until you kind of figure out what you’re dealing with,” Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze said in a previously scheduled Monday afternoon news conference.
According to Atlanta police incident reports released earlier Monday, officers and paramedics responded to the Grand Hyatt around 11:20 p.m. Saturday and found Nkemdiche on the concrete in front of an interior driveway. Cellphone video obtained by Channel 2 Action News showed him being loaded onto an ambulance on a stretcher, and he was taken to Grady Memorial Hospital in stable condition.
Several “associates” were also at the scene, police said, “however none of them claimed to know what transpired.”
“It is undetermined why or how Mr. Nkemdiche made it over the two ledges onto the ground,” the incident report said. “Neither Mr. Nkemdiche nor his associates would provide this information.”
Investigators eventually entered the room from which Nkemdiche had exited, noting that it was “in complete disarray.” The marijuana cigarettes rolled in cigar papers, commonly referred to as blunts, were found on a table adjacent to the window, police said.
After being released from the hospital — where, according to Freeze, he got stitches in his leg and back — Nkemdiche was taken to the Atlanta city jail and booked on the misdemeanor marijuana charge. He later posted a cash bond, authorities said.
Nkemdiche was the nation’s No. 1 recruit while at Loganville’s Grayson High. He was named a Second-Team AP All-American on Sunday, and is widely projected as a top pick in the 2016 NFL Draft should he choose to forego his final year of college.
The weekend incident, however, is another chapter in an often tumultuous tenure at Ole Miss for Nkemdiche and older brother Denzel.
Denzel Nkemdiche, a senior linebacker for the Rebels, was hospitalized last month in Mississippi for what was described as a “personal matter.” He missed the last two games of the regular season and is not expected to play in the team’s Sugar Bowl matchup with Oklahoma State.
In 2014, both Nkemdiche brothers were sued by a fellow student claiming they attacked him at an Ole Miss fraternity party. The Associated Press reported at the time that plaintiff Matthew Baird claimed Denzel Nkemdiche punched him from behind and knocked him unconscious before Robert and five others “began to kick and stomp Baird while he was on the ground.”
The Ole Miss athletic program said at the time that authorities had investigated the matter and “could find no wrong-doing related to Denzel and Robert Nkemdiche or any other members of our football program.” The Nkemdiches filed a countersuit.
Freeze’s Monday news conference was streamed live online from Mississippi. The coach said he’d only briefly spoken with Robert Nkemdiche and repeatedly said he would not make a decision on his star’s playing status until getting “all the facts.”
Then, a reporter specifically referenced the brothers’ series of issues and asked Freeze if he’d done enough to steer them away from trouble.
“No,” the coach said. “I mean, obviously, I haven’t helped them enough.”
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