Former Carolina Panther Rae Carruth walks free after nearly two decades in prison

Former Carolina Panthers player Rae Carruth, who was convicted of hiring a hitman to kill his pregnant girlfriend in 1999, is out of prison.

Cherica Adams was eight months pregnant with their son when she was shot in a drive-by shooting on Rea Road.

Carruth and his lawyer maintain to this day it was a drug deal gone bad. Carruth backed out, and the suspects came after Cherica for retribution. The jury didn’t buy that. They agreed with the prosecution—that Carruth didn’t want to pay child support and he wanted Cherica to abort the baby.

LINK: Panthers fans react to Rae Carruth's release

That baby, Chancellor Lee Adams, is now almost 19 years old. He suffered severe brain damage when Cherica was shot and has cerebral palsy.

Chancellor’s grandma, Cherica’s mom Saundra Adams, is raising him. She calls him her “miracle child.”

LINK: Carruth's former teammate Frank Garcia: "He was a quiet guy"

Carruth walked out of the Sampson Correctional Facility in Clinton, NC Monday after spending nearly two decades behind bars. 

Carruth did not speak to reporters on as he left the prison wearing a knit cap and an unzipped jacket on a chilly morning with temperatures in the high 30s. There was a smattering of applause as Carruth got into a white SUV and was whisked away from the prison.

It's unclear where Carruth will go from this point. He was taken to an undisclosed location after his release. The former Panthers' wide-receiver has said he wants to have a relationship with his son.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.