It’s been a long time coming.

Ex-Panthers wide receiver Rae Carruth was released from prison early this morning.

Carruth, 44, left the Sampson Correctional Institution in Clinton, N.C., at 8 a.m. ET without speaking to reporters gathered near the exit. Carruth begins a nine-month post-release program as part of his sentence for plotting Nov. 16, 1999, shooting of his pregnant girlfriend, Cherica Adams, who died one month later.

Carruth’s son, Chancellor Adams, survived in Adams’ womb but the loss of oxygen and blood caused brain damage. Saundra Adams, Cherica’s mother, has raised her grandson since his birth.

During the release program, Carruth is not permitted to leave the state without permission.

Carruth was an active Panthers player when he was charged for the death of Adams.