Houston Rockets teammates and coaches were among those fearing the worst after Sterling Brown suffered serious injuries in an attack outside a Miami strip club, sources told The Athletic's Shams Charania and Kelly Iko.
Brown was assaulted late Sunday night and reportedly struck in the head with a bottle after he and other Rockets players exited an adult establishment 20 minutes from the team's hotel in Coral Gables.
The fourth-year pro was admitted to Jackson Memorial Hospital on Monday morning and underwent surgery to treat lacerations to his face and body, report Charania and Iko. Members of Brown's family and the Rockets organization were reportedly worried he was in critical condition due to extensive bleeding and doctors' concerns that the nature of Brown's head injuries could lead to blood clotting.
Brown was reportedly released from hospital late Monday afternoon and has since returned to Houston.
"If he hadn't been as physically strong and tough, he might not have made it out of the situation (Sunday) night," a source told Charania and Iko. "He could have died."
Another source said that "his face is jacked up."
The altercation began after Brown attempted to enter the wrong sprinter van and started exchanging words with at least three individuals who appeared to be using it, sources told Charania and Iko. The incident reportedly escalated until the individuals attacked Brown.
Rockets guard Kevin Porter Jr. reportedly inserted himself into the altercation and attempted to protect Brown. The individuals apparently became physical with Porter, who was reportedly not harmed and played 31 minutes in Monday's 113-91 defeat to the Miami Heat.
Porter has since entered the league's health and safety protocols and will be out until Sunday, head coach Stephen Silas said, courtesy of Charania.
The Rockets are expecting a full investigation by the NBA into the incident, report Charania and Iko. League rules currently prohibit players and staff from going to bars and clubs amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Brown's agent at Priority Sports told Charania and Iko that the 26-year-old's camp hopes to work with both a private investigator and Miami police to investigate the incident.
"Our No. 1 concern is Sterling's health. We will rely on law enforcement to help get to the bottom of this and the facts about what went down," Brown's agent said.
Officers of the Miami-Dade Police Department stated in an incident report obtained by Charania and Iko that Brown and an unidentified person on the scene were uncooperative.
"Upon attempting to assist both males and gather information as to what occurred, both males became belligerent and refused to cooperate," the statement read.
"Several attempts were made to gather information (from Brown), who kept insisting he did not want to provide his information; he only wanted rescue to take him to the hospital."
Brown and the city of Milwaukee reached a settlement agreement last year after he filed a lawsuit accusing Milwaukee police officers of using excessive force during an unlawful race-based arrest in January 2018. The Milwaukee Police Department released 30 minutes of body cam footage of the arrest and subsequently apologized to Brown, who was with the Milwaukee Bucks at the time.
Brown is actively vocal regarding social justice issues and joined the NBA's Social Justice Coalition after he was named the Bucks' National Basketball Players Association team representative in 2020. Brown and George Hill led the Bucks in refusing to play a postseason game last August following the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
The forward is averaging career bests in points (8.2) and rebounds (4.4) in 51 games for the last-place Rockets this season.