Busting Brackets

PJ Hairston: Where Do We Go From Here?


Jan 29, 2013; Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels guard P.J. Hairston (15) talks with trainer Chris Hirth after returning to the bench during the second half against the Boston College Eagles at Conte Forum. The North Carolina Tar Heels won 82-70. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

People make mistakes. None of us are perfect and we have all had moments in our lives we would like back or ask forgiveness for. As they say, to err is human nature. That is why a lot of people believe that everyone should be awarded second chances. It seems like a fair deal, if you make a mistake once, chances are that the mistake will not be repeated.

When it comes to PJ Hairston, the situation is a little bit different than that. After his original arrest, when he was arrested at a checkpoint for driving without a license and being in possession of marijuana, it could have been chalked down to a young kid making a really dumb mistake. Hairston is in college and made a bad decision, it didn’t really indicate anything about his overall character.

As police was investigating the case though, a lot of bad information came out regarding Hairston. At the time of his arrest, he was driving a rental owned by Haydn “Fats” Thomas, a convicted felon who has ties with a lot of local athletes. Thomas claimed to not know Hairston and that he had lent the rental to one of Hairston’s passengers, Miykael Faulcon. However, Faulcon’s mother later said that her son did not know Thomas and was only friends with Hairston.

The ties to the felon appeared even stronger when news came out that Hairston had previously been cited for two speeding charges while driving rental cars registered to a woman who shared an address with Thomas. While knowing and interacting with a convicted felon is not a crime, it is weird how Thomas attempted to cover up the fact that he knew Hairston. He could have just been honest and a lot of scrutiny would have been avoided for both parties.

Thankfully for Hairston, he was acquitted of all charges from his arrest in July. All he had to do was provide the courts with his valid license and the police ultimately agreed to drop the possession charge as it was a very small amount and could not have been with intention to sell. While he had gone through a lot of public criticism, Hairston was free and ready to move on from his controversy. Except that he wasn’t.

On July 28th, Hairston was pulled over for going 93 MPH in a 65 zone. He was cited for reckless driving and given a court date of August 30th. Immediately following the news, UNC and coach Roy Williams suspended Hairston from the team immediately. They had been given no other choice by Hairston, whom they had stood by until that time. His continuous troubles with the law was becoming an embarrassment for the Tar Heels, who are one of the proudest organizations in the NCAA and they could not allow Hairston’s bad decisions to reflect on the program.

As was mentioned off the top, people make mistakes. People in the spotlight have extra pressure shining on them and sometimes, they slip up. Kobe Bryant had his issues, Tiger Woods did too. What separates those two from Hairston is that once they got in trouble once, they worked hard to fix their public image, and most importantly, they stayed out of trouble. Only a mere two weeks after Hairston had been cleared from his legal issues, he got himself cited again, for another vehicle related incident.

Does he not understand that his actions have consequences? Does he simply not care? This is a player who had the opportunity to jump to the NBA, possibly going as high as the first round. He decided to return to school to help his draft positionion. Well, it appears like he has eliminated all chances of being drafted at all. What team is going to take a chance on Hairston when they know that even when the spotlight is shined brightly onto him, he cannot stay out of trouble.

When it comes to his team, the Tar Heels will have a tough decision ahead of them. UNC has a tough schedule and were expected to be one of the best teams in the nation. While he has had troubles off the court, Hairston was UNC’s top scorer last year and his return was one of the biggest reasons the Tar Heels were expected to be one of the best teams in the NCAA. Will Williams stick to his guns and leave Hairston off the roster for a large amount of time? Or will he feel the pressure of winning and reinstate him after he has sat out a few games? For that we have no answer. What we do know is that Hairston has heavily damaged his reputation and if he wants any sort of shot at redemption, he will have to come up with one heck of an excuse for his past actions.