Lorenzen Wright shoots to fame with basketball talent: Part 1

Wright’s hometown of Memphis, Tennessee, loves basketball, and he was a hometown hero. After making it to the NBA, those who knew him said he’d give back to his family and the community.
9:26 | 09/19/20

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Transcript for Lorenzen Wright shoots to fame with basketball talent: Part 1
This is a tale out of a southern gothic novel. Greed, jealousy, false trails, envy. It was a fairy tale Cinderella kind of story that's supposed to have a happy ending. Count it and one. You're never going to make me Lorenzen was a force on the court. Just an instant millionaire. Just as fast as he was making money, the money was being spent. He loved the ladies. The ladies loved him too. He put moves on him, a chop they don't do in Mississippi. She saw a future in a millionaire. Out of the blue, lit lite went missing. If he's missing he doesn't want us to know where he is. A former player disappeared. We got to investigate. We got to investigate. What was your interaction like with the police. I was on them. Check this person out and this person out. I am the mother of Lorenzen Wright. That's a mother's love for a When I heard that story I didn't know what was going on. I felt like I was in the twilight zone. Is it possible his friends, people who knew him and loved him might not have known about this other side? Last one standing Germantown 911. Where is your emergency? To actually hear the 911 call, it's bloodcurdling. And you hear gunshots. You hear that dispatcher say "Hello" over and over again. Hello? Hello? You hear the gunshots, and you hear silence. Y'all, I got nothing but gunshots. That 911 call and what would come after would start a mystery in the city of Memphis that would transfix it for more than a decade. It was the whodunit of all cases in Memphis history. Describe Memphis to me. Great city, great town. Culture's unique. Of course you think of Elvis. Elvis Presley even recorded the song, "Memphis, Tennessee," about his hometown. Give me Memphis, Tennessee But I think of the blues. I think of B.B. King. I think of beale street. Memphis is the birthplace of the blues and rock and roll. People in Memphis love to talk about the music. What they don't like to talk about as much is the crime. Every time you turn the TV on, you hear of someone being murdered. Three people were shot and one man died. Being robbed. An attempted robbery led to shots being fired. Or stabbed or shot. The shooting took place on chestnut. It's an ongoing thing, man. Memphis has always been a this city of haves and have notes. Probably 30% to 40% of our people are below the poverty line, and Memphis has had its share of crime through the years. These disparities, both racial and economic, they're still there in Memphis. But one thing brings Memphis together, and that's basketball. Basketball bridged a racial divide in Memphis. It's one of those binding things that brings people together from all walks of life. You got to understand, people from Memphis, they just love whoever plays for them. So imagine if that player is homegrown. Dribble drive. Left-hand follow by Lorenzen Wright. That love then just becomes off the charts. This is why what happened to Lorenzen Wright was such a big deal. It's why I went there, to really sit down and talk to the people who knew him best. Who is Lorenzen Wright? Lorenzen Wright was one of the best human beings that ever drew breath on this Earth. A lot of good basketball players come out of here. He was one who really made it big. It was even noted on TV broadcasts. He come to Memphis as a superstar so his name was all over the media, all over the press. He stood out. He was a hometown hero. My name is Deborah Marion, and I am the mother of Lorenzen Wright. Describe what it was like bringing Lorenzen into this world. Ooh, honey, honey, honey. First of all, he was a big child. He couldn't just lay in my lap because he was just too long. So he was so long his head came off your knees? Yes, His mother had him at a very young age, and he was raised by his mother and grandmother within the same home. Lorenzen's mom and dad were never married, and Lorenzen's dad herb didn't live in the family home, but he was still a big part of Lorenzen's life. By 7th, 8th grade, he was already playing the high school teams, and that's when they decided to move to get him around better competition. Literally everywhere they were talking about Lorenzen. Even in high school, yes. So Lorenzen decides that he's going to go to Memphis state. The folks in Memphis love it when Cincinnati comes calling. A sellout tonight. Lorenzen drew people to the coliseum to watch basketball that didn't know anything about basketball. The entire city was just buzzing with the excitement of him playing for the college. Lorenzen Wright on the jam. Lorenzen was an absolute force on the court. Exciting, athletic, big. He loved people. One of these! He loved children. He was just a big baby. He was a yes, sir, yes, ma'am, person. He was raised right. That was Lorenzen. He always had that big smile with him. That smile would just wipe you away, it would always get anybody. He was only at Memphis a couple years before he went to the NBA. Now is the time for me to accept the challenge of playing with the best basketball players in the nation. That NBA draft was on TV. The Los Angeles clippers select Lorenzen Wright from the university of Memphis. Memphis just exploded. We were so happy, so joyous. It felt like we all got drafted. We just went crazy. He was an instant millionaire, and the clippers would make the playoffs in Lorenzen's rookie season. It was definitely life-changing for him. People started calling him "The howl," because after he would score or dunk, he would let out this huge howl, like he was a wolf howling at the moon. The transition out to California was a very, very big move. Money was no object. It was a culture shock. Memphis is a big city, but it's a big southern city, and it's not like Los Angeles. A few years later, that didn't matter. Lorenzen Wright was going back home. Join me in welcoming Lorenzen Wright! To be able to play high school ball, to play college ball, and then to play in the NBA in front of your hometown, I don't know if it gets any better than that. The whole town is excited to have Lorenzen back, and he shows his gratitude by spreading his wealth around. He is that proverbial guy that would take the shirt off his own back and give it away. He took care of his childhood friends a lot, right? What would he do for them? He bought cars for them and everything, let them stay with His house was the spot to hang out at. It was like disneyland at his house. He had a gigantic pool in the back. The number of bedrooms he had, the entertainment -- it was really, really nice. And he purchased his mother a home literally three minutes away. At one point, he buys you a house. What did that feel like for you? Oh, my! Look at my baby. Look at my baby. The little shortcut from Lorenzen's house to his mom's house was a little road. Didn't nobody else parent live on one end and the child live on the other. That was our road, our little cut-through. Its called Callis cutoff. The Callis cutoff. It's not a road you want to drive down. No lights. That was a road that if you didn't know it was there, you didn't know it was there. It's in the city, but it actually just feels like you're out in the country. I mean, heavy woods on both sides. If you're driving you just want to drive on through it. You don't want the stop. Lorenzen had driven that shortcut maybe hundreds of times and nothing had ever happened. He probably never thought for a moment that it might be dangerous. And then out of the blue, Lorenzen Wright went missing. Police have joined in the search for missing NBA player Lorenzen Wright as his family is starting to fear the worst. This is a millionaire. He's a basketball player. If he's missing, he doesn't want us to know where he is. It was a fairy tale, Cinderella kind of story that's supposed to have a happy ending. That was the biggest mistake he ever made in his life. At Olive Garden

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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