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Boston Celtics guard Jabari Bird said he's taking a break from the team following charges that he choked and kicked his girlfriend and prevented her from leaving his apartment.
In a statement Thursday, the 24-year-old Bird apologized to his teammates and fans for creating an "unnecessary distraction" and said he's taking time away to deal with "legal and medical issues."
"I do not condone violence against women," he said. "I am hopeful that in due time and process, I will be able to regain everyone's trust."
A management agency that represents Bird released the statement just hours after an arraignment hearing in which Bird was held on $50,000 bail. Not-guilty pleas to domestic violence-related charges were entered on his behalf.
Police spoke with Bird's girlfriend, a student at a local college, at a city hospital after his arrest, prosecutor Khyati Short said during the hearing.
Bird choked the woman unconscious, threw her against the wall, and dragged her by the ankles when she tried to leave his apartment in the Brighton neighborhood, police said.
The ordeal, sparked by what the woman called "trust issues," went on for several hours, she said, until Bird experienced "seizure-like" symptoms and fell. That's when the woman left.
Bird spent several days in a hospital. The woman was in the hospital briefly and was released without serious injury, according to a spokesman for prosecutors. Her name has not been released.
Bird's lawyer, former federal prosecutor Brian Kelly, said that his client "understands the seriousness of the allegations" but that there are two sides to the story.
The Celtics called the allegations disturbing and said the team's "thoughts are with the victim."
"The Celtics organization deplores domestic violence of any kind, and we are deeply disturbed by the allegations against Jabari Bird," the team said in a statement.
The team notes that domestic violence issues are handled by the NBA's main office.
Bird, a second-round draft choice of the Celtics in 2017 out of California, signed a two-year contract with the team this summer after splitting his rookie season between Boston and the Maine Red Claws of the G-League. He appeared in 13 regular-season games for the Celtics last season, averaging 3 points per game.
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