Jayson Williams is handcuffed by Somerset County (New Jersey) Deputy Sheriffs as he is taken into custody Tuesday

*Former NBA star Jayson Williams was sentenced to five years in prison Tuesday for fatally shooting a hired limo driver in 2002, closing an eight-year legal case by tearfully apologizing to the victim’s family. [Watch clip below.]

Williams pleaded guilty last month to aggravated assault in the death of Costas Christofi on Feb. 14, 2002. He will be eligible for parole in 18 months.

The guilty plea allowed Williams to avoid a retrial on a reckless manslaughter count that deadlocked the jury at his 2004 trial. At the same 2004 trial, he was acquitted of aggravated manslaughter but convicted on four counts of covering up the shooting.

The sentences on the assault and cover-up counts will run concurrently. State Superior Court Judge Edward Coleman went along with a plea agreement that spelled out the five-year prison sentence and the potential for Williams to be released as early as summer 2011.