- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 4, 2010

MEMPHIS, TENN. (AP) - The procession moved slowly and solemnly on Wednesday, a long line of mourners dressed in black and white, pausing in front of the silver casket of their slain native son Lorenzen Wright.

Hundreds of fans, friends and family members of the former NBA player filed into the FedEx Forum in Memphis for Wright’s memorial service and funeral, remembering the man many called “Ren” as a loving, gentle, charitable family man.

Wright’s body was found July 28 in woods outside Memphis after he had been missing for 10 days. The 34-year-old was shot to death in what police are calling a homicide. No arrests have been made and Memphis police will not discuss whether they have a motive or suspects.

Relatives and friends fought off tears as they addressed the crowd, still in disbelief at the way he died.

Jeffrey L. Archie told the audience that he may never understand why someone would kill his brother.

“To me he was invincible,” Archie said. “There’s no reason for anybody to take him like this.”

Memphis Grizzlies owner Michael Heisley said Wright had movie star looks with an infectious smile, and served as the team’s leader. Wright spent five of his 13 seasons in the NBA with the team from the city he was born.

“We should all leave this hall with the thought that were going to do a little bit in Lorenzen’s honor to make sure things like this don’t happen again,” Heisley said. “That’s the biggest service you could pay him.”

Wright’s six children and ex-wife were in the procession, trailed by his father, Herb Wright, who uses a wheelchair. Dozens of friends and family followed, stopping before a photo of Wright, then the casket. His mother, Deborah Wright, also attended.

A litany of former NBA brethren paid their respects, including Memphis hero Penny Hardaway, Elliot Perry, Bonzi Wells, and former Atlanta Hawks coach Mike Woodson. Current Grizzlies forward Zach Randolph and former NBA player Damon Stoudemire also were there.

Lorenzen Vern-Gagne Wright Sr. was born in Memphis but lived as a youth Oxford, Miss.. His mother and siblings moved to Memphis for his senior year in high school, and he became a star at Booker T. Washington High School. While growing up, Wright’s father, who was paralyzed after being shot in the spine, coached him on the basketball court and taught him to be a family man off the court.

He then went to the University of Memphis, where he played two seasons and was an All-America selection after his sophomore year.

The 6-foot-11 forward-center was drafted No. 7 in 1996 by the Los Angeles Clippers where he spent three seasons before moving onto the Atlanta Hawks, for two separate stints, Grizzlies, Sacramento Kings and most recently the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2008-09. He averaged 8 points and 6.4 rebounds in 778 career NBA games, and also was known as a good defensive player.

In March 2003, Wright’s 11-month-old daughter, Sierra, died of sudden infant death syndrome.

Wright contributed to children’s charities, holding basketball camps, contributing to child reading programs, and visiting St. Jude’s Children Research Hospital.

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