The prosecution says the three young men from Hazelwood were out to steal the 6-foot-8-inch Steelers offensive lineman's pickup truck -- that they threatened him with a gun and stabbed him in the abdomen.
But the defense characterized that argument as ridiculous, saying what really happened was that Mike Adams was on the South Side, drunk and obnoxious, and that he knocked into one of the men, causing him to drop his cell phone and shish kebab, prompting a fight among the men.
It will be up to a jury of seven men and five women to decide what really happened as the trial for Jerrell Whitlock, 27, Dquay Means, 26, and Michael Paranay, 26, plays out this week before Common Pleas Judge Anthony M. Mariani.
Mr. Adams is expected to be the first witness called to the stand this morning.
The defendants are charged with attempted homicide, conspiracy and attempted robbery stemming from the incident shortly before 3 a.m. June 1 on East Carson Street.
Assistant district attorney Chris Stone said Mr. Adams had left his F-150 Raptor truck with a valet at Nakama Japanese Steakhouse when he went out for the evening, and shortly before the incident, stopped for a sandwich at Jimmy John's, which he says he ate inside his truck.
The defendants, who knew each other from Hazelwood, made comments to Mr. Adams about his vehicle and that they liked it, Mr. Stone said.
Then, he continued, Mr. Paranay punched Mr. Adams in the head, and Mr. Whitlock stabbed him as part of a plan to steal the truck.
Then, "they all fled," Mr. Stone said.
"All of them ... acknowledged they were there during the attack on Mr. Adams."
Although it was only Mr. Whitlock who used a knife on the victim, Mr. Stone said, all of the defendants are guilty.
"Not all three of these men stabbed Mike Adams. Not all three of these men punched Mike Adams," Mr. Stone said. "But all three of these men are responsible for the attack on Mike Adams."
But defense attorneys said the story Mr. Adams told about the attempted carjacking was really just to cover for himself so he didn't get in trouble with the Steelers for being stabbed during a drunken brawl on the South Side.
"Mike Adams has a huge, multimillion-dollar motive to lie," said Fred Rabner, who represents Mr. Means. "Being out at 3 o'clock in the morning, drunk, is not the Steelers' way."
Mr. Adams' blood-alcohol level at the hospital was at least .185 -- more than twice the legal limit for driving.
On the other hand, he continued, his client is an up-and-coming rapper who has been signed by Wiz Khalifa.
"This man is making it," Mr. Rabner said. "This isn't a man desperate to [steal] a car."
Randall McKinney, who represents Mr. Paranay, said his client lost his temper after Mr. Adams bumped into him.
Mr. Paranay, who is about 5 feet 5 inches tall, weighs 140 pounds. He was angry and threw a punch at Mr. Adams, his attorney said.
But then, he continued, his client stopped.
"He realized if there was going to be a fight between the two of them, he had no chance of winning," Mr. McKinney said. "He threw a punch and headed for the hills."
Mr. Means, his attorney said, only became involved in the incident because he tried to stick up for Mr. Paranay.
William Difenderfer, who represents Mr. Whitlock, said Mr. Adams' story changed repeatedly from his initial report at the scene to his testimony at the preliminary hearing.
He also questioned whether the three defendants would plan to rob a man of Mr. Adams' size "with shish kebabs."
Paula Reed Ward: email@example.com, 412-263-2620 or on Twitter @PaulaReedWard.