DETROIT, MI - The sister and cousin of New Orleans player Willie Green were killed early Monday when their sport utility vehicle sped from a Detroit area freeway and slammed into a tree a few hours after the Hornets lost to the Pistons in overtime at the Palace of Auburn Hills.
Family members identified the victims as Tamara Green, 30, and Ben Green, 27, said Troy police Lt. Robert Redmond.
The pair and other relatives had attended the game to watch Willie Green, a college star at the University of Detroit Mercy, play against his hometown professional team. They had stopped at a nearby restaurant after the game.
Ben Green was driving south on Interstate 75, about 15 miles north of Detroit, about 12:40 a.m. Monday.
"He lost control on the dry pavement and the car slid off the embankment area," Redmond said. "It went off the ground as the car flipped."
The GMC Envoy slammed roof-first into a tree. The driver's door was torn off and Ben Green was thrown out.
"The roof was totally crushed," Redmond said.
Both victims died at the scene.
There were no witnesses to the crash. A motorist noticed the Envoy in a ditch and called police, Redmond said.
After being told of the deaths, Willie Green left the team and returned to Detroit. He will miss New Orleans' game Monday night against the Pacers in Indianapolis, the Hornets said in a statement.
Willie Green joined the Hornets this season and generally is the club's top reserve shooting guard. He has averaged 7.9 points and 2.9 rebounds in about 21 minutes per game.
Ben Green earned his bachelor's degree in Liberal Studies in 2006 and also played basketball at the University of Detroit Mercy, seeing action in 115 games, the school said in a release.
He averaged 6.3 points and 2.9 rebounds per game his senior season.
"Ben was a fan favorite during his career. He will be missed by all of us involved with the Titan program," school athletic director Keri Gaither said. "The Green families are tightly woven into the fabric of Detroit Titan athletics. Our thoughts and prayers go out to them during this difficult time."