TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Former Florida State and Cleveland Cavaliers basketball player Harry Davis received a conditional pardon from Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Cabinet for a 1987 cocaine conviction.
Davis, 56, told the officials he needed the pardon to pass background checks so he can do volunteer work coaching and counseling children and obtain a massage therapist license.
The 6-foot-7 Davis currently works as part of the Cav Legends, former players who schmooze with luxury box fans during the basketball season. He also has a part-time job driving a hotel shuttle bus in Cleveland. He expects to complete his massage therapy training in a matter of weeks.
"I've got a feeling of relief right now," Davis said after the clemency board's decision. He said he'll now be able to tell his mother, a retired nurse who will turn 85 next month, that Florida has forgiven him.
The governor and at least two of the three Cabinet members on the Florida Board of Executive Clemency must approve any grant of clemency. The vote for Davis' pardon was unanimous. If he is arrested again on drug charges, though, the pardon would automatically be revoked. Davis said he also will try to get the conviction expunged from his court record. His civil rights were restored in 2005.
The Cleveland native was with the Cavaliers for the 1978-79 season after being taken in the second round of the NBA draft. He then played in the Continental Basketball Association and Europe through 1985.
A forward, Davis starred at Florida State from 1974 through 1978, averaging 14 points and 6.8 rebounds per game for his career. He was Metro Conference co-player of the year in 1977-78, when he helped lead the Seminoles to the NCAA tournament. He was inducted into Florida State's athletics Hall of Fame in 1998.
Davis said he was vacationing in West Palm Beach when he was arrested aboard a Greyhound bus on a charge of attempting to traffic in cocaine. He served a one-year sentence in the Palm Beach County stockade.
Davis admitted he continued using cocaine until quitting in 2005. Scott asked him if being clean for only seven years was long enough for the governor "to know you're not going back and start using drugs again especially if I allow you to work with youth?"
"Because I unofficially work with them now and everybody's eyes are on me," Davis replied. "I work a high profile job with the Cleveland Cavaliers and everybody's eyes are on me."
Davis also noted he's subject to random drug testing at hotel job.
"But most of all, your honor, is because I'm tired of it," Davis said. "I've gone through the wringer. I just don't want it anymore."
Davis later said he went through periods of depression because his conviction kept him from getting work so he decided "what the heck" and went back to using drugs.
"There was literally no hope for me as far as I was concerned," Davis said. "I literally woke up one morning and said there is no way, I'm better than this."