A Florida Gators football player told university police multiple times that his friendship with an alleged gambler ended after the team started losing, according to a video obtained Monday by First Coast News.
The video shows a University of Florida Police Department detective interviewing Gators senior tight end C’yontai Lewis and other players regarding their involvement in a Memorial Day confrontation between the alleged gambler - Devante Zachery aka “Tay Bang” - and a group of Gator football players on the UF campus.
The confrontation involved rocks, airsoft guns and a frying pan being used as weapons. No one was charged with a crime, but multiple players were sent to the university’s Student Code of Conduct.
Lewis is not facing any student conduct or criminal punishment. The team has not announced any suspensions for the upcoming season.
The video was obtained by First Coast News through a public records request. First Coast News was the first to report about the initial confrontation and a subsequent report, released by the Gainesville Police Department, regarding Zachery’s version of events.
According to the initial incident report, Lewis told police he “had a good relationship with (Zachery) "Tay Bang” until, “they began losing. Lewis says that's when “Tay Bang” started calling the players "garbage” and would complain about losing money after he would bet on the football games.
At one point during the nearly 11-minute interview, the detective asked Lewis how he knew “Tay Bang.”
Lewis responds, “They came to the spring game. I’ve been here four or five years so like you know you will see him around,” Lewis said to university police Detective Daniel Henderson. “You know as you see someone a couple of times you feel like you know them. You know how people just come up to us.
“The reason, like everything really started with them, was like during the season they said they were betting on us and you know we did bad last year," Lewis said in the June 15 interview. "We started out doing good so everything was good. Sometimes we be hanging with each other."
Henderson then asked Lewis, “So when things were going well ya’ll were all hanging out?”
Lewis response: “We were chilling, you know? ... One night we lost and we saw each other ... we started cracking jokes on each other. Then Tay Bang that was first night he ever took it and [got angry] ... like made it a big deal. He got mad and all that. Ever since then, it when it started with us just playing. [Tay Bang] said ‘I ain’t f*** with ya’ll no more. Ya’ll garbage.
“We not cool anymore so if [Tay Bang] sees us, he says something,” Lewis told the detective.
“[Tay Bang] took it really personal which I am sure was hard enough for you I am sure?” the detective asked Lewis.
“People are jealous of athletes to even people that attend UF. It is interesting, and I am glad you explained it. That is the key – why is this guy so mad?” Henderson asked Lewis during the interview.
“Every weekend they say the bet on us and we lose so,” Lewis responded.
Lewis was the only person to name “Tay Bang” as an alleged gambler betting on Florida football games.
Gambling and college athletics is a major no-no, according to the NCAA. Players are told from their earliest days on campus to avoid contact with known gamblers and sharing information about you or your team that could be used for sports wagering purposes. The consequences can include loss of player eligibility.
Tay Bang told Gainesville police a different story in a report created hours after the original First Coast News story was published.
According to that report, “Tay Bang” told police he had a good relationship with Lewis and another player, Vosean Joseph that involved giving them discounts on rental cars. He told police the argument started on Feb. 10, 2018 after an argument about guns with a few UF football players including Lewis.
Later, “Tay Bang” told police the Gator football players jumped his friend inside a Gainesville nightclub. A security manager at the bar confirmed to police a fight happened between the players and “some local guys from Gainesville neighborhoods,” according to the report. The incident report also says Tay Bang's friend knocked out Gators player Tyrie Cleveland, but he wouldn’t identify which friend did it.
Zachery, a.k.a Tay Bang told Gainesville police he is fearing for his life, wants to end the conflict and “Lewis seems to be the only one that wants to keep this thing going.”
Earlier this month, First Coast News asked Gators head football coach if he had any concerns with his players associating with someone gambling on football games.
“No, it’s something we’d look into right there. I’ll be honest with you, they just made sports gambling legal across America so there’s obviously a lot of gamblers in the United States of America. ... there might be a bunch in this room right here, and I’m associating with you today. In terms of that … again that’d be something we’d investigate or look into in severity of it. But ... we’re always concerned for our players of who they associate with in every aspect of their life. I think that’s ... you hear a lot of successful people tell you ... you want to judge a successful person, show me their friends. I’ll tell you how successful they are by their friends, who they associate, who they hang out with."