Stupid. Foolish. Embarassing. Those are just some of the words UCLA senior guard Jerime Anderson used to describe his arrest and conviction for stealing a laptop on campus this summer.
He's been suspended for the Bruins' first two games, must serve 300 hours of community service, and if it wasn't for a long line of character witnesses, it could have been worse.
"It's definitely the worst decision I've made in my whole life," Anderson said Wednesday in his first public comments since the arrest on July 26. "I wish I can go back and make the right decision. It was just stupid, to be frank.
"My main thing is that I can't let one thing define who I am and the person I was raised to be. My parents gave me good morals and values, and from now (on) I have to stick to them."
Anderson said he had been advised not to discuss specifics of the incident, which was formally settled in court Sept. 15 when he pled guilty to misdemeanor charges of appropriation of lost property and trespass. But he did acknowledge taking a laptop, which had been left unattended on a campus bench.
"It was a serious lapse in judgement," he said. "I know that I'm not supposed to take things that don't belong to me, even if they are just sitting there somewhere.
"People see things sitting there all the time and just walk by it. I should've done the same."
Anderson was arrested after police used a tracking device in the laptop to locate him.
"As soon as everything happened, at the time I was arrested, I was scared not only for my UCLA career, but for my life in general," he said.
"It's extremely scary. I laugh about it now, just trying to bring some life to it. But the whole situation was really scary. It's very eye-opening. The biggest reality check I've ever had."
Anderson said his teammates at UCLA were very supportive. Facing his parents was another story.
"It was really difficult to go back home and have to explain the situation," he said. "I have a really close relationship with both my parents. Probably my father was the hardest. Just, as a man, talking to him was really difficult."
Anderson began his community service a few weeks ago. He'll be volunteering at local Boys & Girls' clubs and the YMCA in Lakewood where he used to play as a boy. He said he's completed 19 hours so far, and will continue serving his time during the Bruins season.
He is allowed to practice with the Bruins during his suspension. Anderson averaged 5.1 points and 2.6 assists for the Bruins last season, but was expected to play a larger role as a senior once off guard Malcolm Lee left school early for the NBA last spring.
"I feel foolish sitting here talking about it because I don't think I should've ever been in a situation like this," Anderson said. "But the only thing I can do now is to face it, be a man and take everything that comes with it."
Ramona Shelburne is a columnist and reporter for ESPNLosAngeles.com.