Ffriend home after Serbian hell
JAMAICAN basketballer Kimani Ffriend has said he will not return to Serbia any time soon after spending almost five years in that country, either in court or under house arrest, following a November 2012 vehicular manslaughter incident involving a Serbian citizen.
Ffriend returned to Jamaica two weeks ago after spending two years and seven months under house arrest following his conviction for the death of a Serbian woman, who died after Ffriend's motor car hit her in the early morning of November 3, 2012.
In September 2014, Ffriend was found guilty of committing a "severe act against public traffic safety", sentenced to three years in prison and a two-year ban on operating motorised vehicles.
The Jamaican basketball player appealed his conviction, hoping to have it overturned, but was eventually allowed time served.
Earlier this year he signed a contract with Serbian basketball team Dynamic Beograd, and was one of the top players in the last season for the team which reached the quarter-finals of the Serbian league.
Ffriend, however, told STAR Sports that returning next season is not an option at this time.
"There's no problem for me to go back. It's just that I don't want to go back any time soon. Going back to Serbia, I'm not deported, no legal issues or nothing like that. I was doing well but, for me, it's too many things, the impact that everything had on me. It didn't leave a good feeling," he said.
"There's more positive than negative. Serbia has been a big part of my life for a long time but right now I need to decompress. Before, when I was there, they knew me as the basketball player, and now it's different. Now it's not a happy thing hanging over my head," he added.
Ffriend said he has taken to keeping a low profile because his name bears a negative connotation among locals.
"I don't like saying my name, and everywhere I go it's like I'm reminded of the situation, so I need to time to get over it," he explained.
The player still hopes to have a positive impact on the lives of Jamaicans while he is here and is open to the possibility of playing for Jamaica again.
"That is not something I was thinking about but I wouldn't mind. It would be nice to represent my country. I wouldn't mind helping the younger guys, as a veteran leader right now. The association (Jamaica Amateur Basketball Association) asked me to help with some camps but I'm just trying to get my personal life in order," he said.