In April 2015, the three of them attended the 40th anniversary of John Wooden’s last championship team at U.C.L.A., one that Brett played on. Jackson was gaunt, not in playing shape and seemingly overcome with emotions and a growing spirituality. He went to where his stepmom sat, got down on his knees and hugged her. “I remember he was just tired,” Habashi said. “I knew there was something different then. But he was so loving. He was hanging on Brett and hanging on me and saying, ‘I love you so much.’” The next month, Jackson called his stepmother to wish her a happy Mother’s Day, and again told her he loved her. “It was the last time we spoke,” she said.
Jackson Vroman RumorsAll NBA Players
Height: 6-10 / 2.08
Weight:220 lbs. / 99.8 kg.
Height: 6-10 / 2.08
Weight:220 lbs. / 99.8 kg.
His father offered to catch the next plane to Lithuania, but Jackson said it was not necessary. In our 2009 conversation, he told me he paid cash to the hospital’s staff to get morphine for the pain. But he said he also sent a friend, with $10,000 of his money, to Amsterdam to get hashish and marijuana. It was not the last time he would seek to self-medicate. After he healed, Vroman signed a $700,000 deal with Saba Mehr, a team in the Iranian professional league. Relations between the governments of the United States and Iran were openly hostile at that time, and Jackson even posted an irreverent photo of himself next to a sign that read, “Down with U.S.A.” But as usual, he had no trouble finding the party. He discovered a group of young, westernized residents of Tehran and joined their inner circle.
“One night I was having four or five guys over,” he added. “When word got out that Jackson was coming, 60 women showed up. He could always break the language barrier.” It was around that time that Vroman was recruited to play for the national team of Lebanon, a familiar practice in international basketball. He accepted an offer of about $300,000 and, without fanfare, became a naturalized Lebanese citizen.
But eventually, after eight years overseas in six countries, Jackson Vroman’s career began to wind down. He was feeling it emotionally. Uncertain what to do, he told his father he was thinking of asking Eustachy for an assistant’s job at Colorado State. But he never did. Instead, he moved into the homes of wealthy friends in Los Angeles, and worked out less frequently. He also told his father he was occasionally feeling faint, sometimes even passing out when he stood up. Years before, Brett had been found to have atrial fibrillation, a heart condition he controls with medication. He wanted his son to consult with the same doctor who had treated him.
And his drug use mushroomed. He told Brett that he had participated in an indigenous ayahuasca ceremony, involving a strong hallucinogenic brew. Then, two months before he died, Jackson overdosed on a combination of GHB, a depressant; ketamine, an anesthetic; and cocaine, and was rushed to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. Brett never learned of the overdose until someone told him at his son’s memorial service. “Of course, I would have liked to have known,” he said. “I understand there may be a code that you don’t go running to someone’s parents. Jackson was an adult. I can’t put the blame on someone else. But you want to know.”
What he did not know was that in the days leading up to his son’s death, Jackson was telling friends that he loved them, the same thing he had told his parents at the U.C.L.A. celebration. “He went to all of our friends and said, ‘I love him for this, and I love her for that,’” said one of those friends, Monica Mejia. She added that Jackson also provided instructions about where his little dog would go should anything happen to him.
On the night he died, Jackson was staying with a friend in Hollywood. In the early hours of June 29, 2015, according to home surveillance video viewed by the Los Angeles Police Department, he went outside with his dog, sat by the pool and smoked a cigarette. At about 3:25 a.m., he staggered to his feet, lost his balance and fell face first into the water. His body floated for several minutes and then sank. On so many other nights he would have been surrounded by adoring friends. But the video surveillance from the pool showed that no one else was present, except his frantic dog. “That is why it was ruled an accident,” Detective Lt. John Radtke of the police department said. Jackson Vroman was pronounced dead by Los Angeles County Fire and Rescue at 10:11 a.m.