Basketball star Emoni Bates is asking for forgiveness after a "poor decision" led to his gun arrest ... saying he hopes he can inspire others to learn from his mistake.
18-year-old Bates -- who was rated one of the top high school hoopers in the class of 2021 -- spoke out for the first time on Wednesday about the situation ... completely owning up to his actions and vowing to do better moving forward.
"The crazy thing about living your life on stage is the inability to escape judgment, and experience the growing pains of lie as a normal adolescent -- privately," Bates said in a statement.
"I hold myself accountable for making a poor decision, and hope you can forgive me as I grow because this will not be my last mistake, however; a lasting stigma to remind me of the severity of such a mistake."
Bates was arrested on September 18 around 10:45 PM in Superior Township, Michigan after cops say he blew a stop sign.
Police officers smelled weed during the stop, and eventually took Emoni out of the vehicle. He quickly admitted there was marijuana and a gun in the car, and was cooperative throughout the whole ordeal.
The 6'9", 190 lb. hooper was charged with multiple felonies, including carrying a concealed weapon and "altering ID marks" on the weapon ... but on Wednesday, he officially agreed to a deal and pled guilty to one misdemeanor count of attempted illegal transportation of a weapon.
Bates enrolled at Memphis Univ. after graduating from high school ... where he averaged 10 points and 3 rebounds per game. Emoni transferred to Eastern Michigan, near his family home, after his first season in Tennessee.
"I hope my mistake can inspire others to think before acting," he added. "Growth is a lifetime experience, I will harness the value within this lesson and continue to be of service to my community."