NEW YORK, April 11, 2006 – NBA TV, the league’s 24-hour television network, examines the life of one of the most controversial and most misunderstood athletes in all of sports in the one-hour special, Searching for Redemption: The Kermit Washington Story, on Sunday, April 16, at 9 p.m. ET. An All-America, a scholar and a humanitarian, Washington was on the threshold of NBA greatness when as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers he hit Houston Rockets star Rudy Tomjanovich in a game with a devastating blow that not only shattered Tomjanovich’s face, but also damaged Washington’s reputation forever.

“To this day it changed everyone’s life, the mistake I made -- a mistake in judgment,” says Washington reflecting on that night during a return trip to the Forum. “Give me a time machine and I think I would just go back, duck and never start the fight.”

Kermit Washington Trailer: Play
Narrated by actor/director Forest Whitaker, Searching for Redemption follows Washington from the playgrounds of Washington, D.C. to the slums of Nairobi, Kenya where he currently works to rebuild lives.

Growing up as a blue-collar athlete, Washington dreamed about becoming an NBA star. A two-time Academic All-America at American University, he was selected in the first round of the 1973 NBA Draft by the Lakers. After working relentlessly in the weight room and with coaching great Pete Newell, Washington became a valuable member of the team. At the same time, he received the unwanted reputation of being an enforcer.

After the incident and subsequent suspension, Washington was practically sent into what the great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar calls “exile.” He was traded later that season to the Boston Celtics and eventually sent to the San Diego Clippers. In 1982, he ended his playing career with the Portland Trailblazers.

Today, Washington still hopes to return to the NBA as a coach. Whether or not he ever gets the opportunity, he hasn’t waited around as he has set his sights on a new mission, helping the people of Africa. Through Project Contact Africa, Washington has brought humanitarian aid to those suffering in refugee camps in places like Nairobi, Kenya.

“If I do get an opportunity, I would be very happy,” says Washington. “If I don’t, it’s not like I’m going to be like ‘Woe is me.’ The journey is sometimes better than the prize.”

Searching for Redemption: The Kermit Washington Story

Jerry West, Head Coach, Los Angeles Lakers (1977-79)
It just wasn’t a pretty thing and in Kermit’s case, his life was changed forever that night. He can’t forget that night.

George Karl, Head Coach, Denver Nuggets
You’d push up against him and go, “Oh, that’s what I’m going to have to do all day today.” Your subconscious says, “I don’t know if I want to do that today.”

Tom Young, Head Coach, American University
He just had this unimaginable desire to be good. You couldn’t keep him out of the weight room. I would say, “Kermit, you have to back off a little bit,” and he would say, “I’m not as good as these guys, so I have be stronger, I have to be quicker.”

Calvin Murphy, Houston Rockets
The NBA did the right thing in making a statement, “Now, this violence is going to stop.” So the NBA had no alternative but to do something to curb the violence.”

Kermit Washington during his return to the Forum, first time since his playing days
I remember that night after the game. I was coming back to the lockerroom and right about here Rudy says “Kermit, what did you hit me for?”

I didn’t know he was hurt that bad. I don’t even remember if we won or lost the game. I left. I went up the tunnel to my car by myself and people were saying, “Don’t worry, everything is going to be O.K.” I remember one of the guys who takes care of the cars saying that and I said, “Oh, I don’t think that everything is going to be O.K.”

Ted Green, Los Angeles Times
Kermit was the public relations disaster that the NBA was never prepared to deal with. When you come to find out that a man’s face has been turned inward and that his face is in the shape of Kermit Washington’s fist, you know a professional sports league is going to take action.

Tom Young, Head Coach, American University
He wasn’t the type of guy you would say, “Everyday was a confrontation with him.” Everyday was everything but that with him.

Calvin Murphy, Houston Rockets
Has he been black balled? I don’t think he has. There are so many quality former players that vie for the jobs.

Rudy Tomjanovich, Houston Rockets
I have to wish the best for him. I don’t like to see people suffer. He made a mistake and everyone deserves another chance.