Smith had license suspended 5 times |

Smith had license suspended 5 times

** FILE ** Denver Nuggets J.R. Smith reacts during the teams 121-94 loss to the Toronto Raptors in NBA basketball action in Toronto, Friday March 23, 2007. Smith and another man were seriously injured Saturday, June 9, 2007, when the sport utility vehicle Smith was driving collided with a car. (AP Photo/Adrian Wyld, CP,file)

NEPTUNE, N.J. ” The driver’s license of Denver Nuggets’ guard J.R. Smith, who was at the wheel in a weekend accident that claimed the life of a friend, had been suspended five times in less than a year, authorities said.

Smith’s license was “in good standing” at the time of Saturday’s crash, according to New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission spokesman Kevin Cranston. He said that Smith, 21, had paid all restoration fees and fines.

Smith’s driving record was reported Tuesday in The Star Ledger of Newark.

Smith’s friend, Andre Bell, died about 6 p.m. Monday night at Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune, where he and Smith had been taken following the crash in Millstone.

Bell, 21, of East Orange, suffered severe head injuries and had been in a coma.

Smith and Bell had been ejected when Smith’s 2003 GMC Yukon went through a stop sign, collided with a Jaguar and flipped over at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, state police said. Neither man was wearing a seat belt.

Smith, of Millstone, was hospitalized with an injured left shoulder and numerous scratches.

His condition on Tuesday was not immediately available. Due to privacy regulations, a hospital spokesman could not say whether Smith was a patient. Nuggets spokesman Eric Sebastian did not immediately return messages seeking comment.

A third person in Smith’s SUV and the driver of the car he hit had only minor injuries.

The investigation into the crash is continuing, but has already resulted in two tickets for Smith: failure to stop at stop sign and improper passing.

Smith amassed 27 points against his license from April 22, 2005, to Jan 10, 2006, with eight violations on seven different dates. The violations included five speeding citations. His most recent license suspension came on Feb. 7, 2006, Cranston said.

Smith had been a star at Lakewood High School and St. Benedict’s Prep in Newark before being the 18th overall pick of New Orleans in the 2004 NBA draft. He averaged 13.0 points in 63 games for Denver this past season.

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