DALLAS (CN) - In his first public comments since being convicted and jailed for the drunk driving death of his teammate and best friend, Dallas Cowboy Josh Brent expressed pain and regret for his role in the death of Jerry Brown Jr.
"I miss Jerry," Brent told reporters Wednesday at the Cowboys' practice facility in Valley Ranch. "To know that he's not here because of a mistake that I made that could have been prevented ... it hurts me every day."
Brown was a member of the Cowboys practice squad when he was killed on Dec. 8, 2012, when a car Brent was driving crashed in Irving, rolled over and caught fire.
Prosecutors said Brent's blood alcohol level was twice the legal limit. He had played with Brown at the University of Illinois.
Brown's mother, Stacy Jackson, is credited with sparing Brent up to 20 years in state prison by publicly forgiving him, asking the Cowboys to support him and asking jurors at his criminal trial for leniency.
The plea worked, as jurors sentenced Brent to only 10 years of probation in January. Dissatisfied with the sentence, Criminal District Court Judge Robert Burns III ordered Brent to serve 180 days in county jail .
Brent was transferred to EnterHealth, a drug treatment facility in Van Alstyne, after serving four months of his sentence. He has been free since July 29.
National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell suspended Brent for 10 games, which came to an end Sunday. The Cowboys reinstated Brent to the team's active roster two days later.
When asked why he was returning to football, Brent said he wanted to honor Brown and make sure he did not "die in vain."
"Jerry was a great person, a great player and had a bright future," he said.
"Once again, a mistake that I made took that away from him, took that away from his daughter, took that away from his mother, so that's something I make sure I keep and feel conscious of that, that I never let his name die in vain."
Brent thanked Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, the Jones family and Goodell for his second chance. He said he does not know how much he can help the team this year.
"I just do what the coaches ask of me and just try to be the best teammate I can," he said.
Brent said he has learned through the experience that he's a "pretty resilient person."
"But that's only by the grace of God and the support of the Cowboys organization, my family, Ms. Jackson, the NFL, my teammates," he added. "Without the support of them, I wouldn't have been able to make it. But I'm here today."
Brown's family last year filed two lawsuits against the operators of Beamers Private Club, for wrongful death. They claim employees continued to serve Brent drinks immediately before the crash though he obviously was intoxicated .
"By defendants' own admission, the alcohol flowed freely at Privae that night. One Privae employee boasted on Twitter that '12 Cowboys are in theeee [sic] building,' and that those 'fools are buying Ace on top of Ace!!!!,'" according to a complaint filed by Jerry Brown Sr. "Brent is 6 feet, 2 inches tall, and weighs roughly 320 pounds. So he must have consumed many of Privae's drinks to become that inebriated."
Brent was also criticized when he tested positive for marijuana use in May 2013 while he awaited trial. Prosecutors said the positive results came one day after Brent allegedly tampered with the alcohol monitoring device he was required to wear as a condition of his bond .Follow @davejourno
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