Miles Bridges did not appear in any games during the 2022-23 NBA season and was the subject of a domestic violence investigation.
On Tuesday, the Charlotte Hornets forward broke his silence and publicly apologized for the “pain and embarrassment” he caused. The 25-year-old signed a one-year, $7.9 million deal to return to Charlotte, where he vowed to be a positive part of the community.
In November, Bridges pleaded no contest to a felony charge stemming from allegations that he assaulted the mother of his children in front of her. He was sentenced to three years probation.
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“I want to apologize to everyone for the hurt and embarrassment I’ve caused everyone, especially my family,” Bridges said. “This year off I’ve used going to therapy and prioritizing being the best person I can be – someone my family and everyone here can be proud of.”
As a result of its investigation, the NBA suspended Bridges for 30 games. The league announced its decision in April. But, the league ruled the 20 games “have already been served” because Bridges missed the previous season.
Michael Jordan will sell majority ownership of the Charlotte Hornets after 13 seasons
Therefore, Miles will sit out the first 10 games of the upcoming season.
Bridges thanked the Hornets organization and the NBA for giving him a second chance, adding, “A lot of people don’t get a second chance, and I want to use this second chance to prove to everybody that I’m the same kid that you drafted five years ago.”
Hornets general manager Mitch Kapchuk said outgoing majority owner Michael Jordan and incoming owners Gabe Plotkin and Rick Schnall unanimously approved re-signing Bridges.
Kapchak said the decision was based on separate investigations by the NBA and the Los Angeles Police Department, as well as the team’s personal five-year relationship with Bridges. Bridges was drafted in the first round in 2018 and has played four seasons in Charlotte.
“You have to decide don’t you?” Kapchak said. “Is it sincere remorse? Is it sincere accountability? It’s not something that’s easy to decide. We took all those factors into consideration and ultimately gave him a second chance.”
Kapchak said he realizes the decision may not sit well with some fans.
“Obviously it’s a polarizing topic,” Kapchak said. “Everybody might not agree. It’s a difficult situation.”
Bridges said he understands he will need to regain the trust of everyone from fans to teammates to members of the Hornets organization.
“Yeah, I understand some people don’t think I deserve a second chance,” Bridges said. “That’s why I’m trying to use this year to prove to everyone that I am who I am. Who is Mel Bridges? It’s not who people think he is.”
Kapchak added: “He understands that although his teammates are happy to have him back, there is some confidence that needs to be regained.”
Bridges declined to go into specifics, other than that he continues to attend therapy and has a good relationship with his young children.
Bridges’ NBA career took a sudden turn last summer.
After a career season in 2021-22 in which he averaged 20.2 points and seven rebounds, Bridges appears likely to sign a multi-year contract worth more than $100 million as a restricted free agent. But just days before the start of free agency, the mother of his children posted graphic photos and details of alleged physical abuse by Bridges on her Instagram account.
A big contract offer never came, and Bridges didn’t play at all last season as the NBA launched an investigation.
By signing the Hornets’ qualifying offer, Bridges becomes eligible to become an unrestricted free agent next summer, giving him more flexibility in his next destination.
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Charlotte recently selected Alabama forward Brandon Miller with the No. 2 pick in the NBA draft, and he could serve as Bridges’ eventual replacement.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.