SANFORD, Fla. (AP) _ What was supposed to be a 20-minute trip to a Lake Mary shopping mall on Memorial Day weekend has turned into the 2 1/2 week disappearance of NBA great Julius Erving's 19-year-old son.

Since that errand to buy bread for a family cookout on May 28, there has been no word or clues to the whereabouts or fate of Cory Marvin Erving.

Before the disappearance, Erving's easygoing younger son was working to put teen drug use behind him and earn his high school equivalency after years of dealing with a learning disability.

The Seminole County Sheriff's Office reported no major developments in the missing persons case as of late Tuesday.

That was hours after Julius Erving, executive vice president of the Orlando Magic, appeared in a nationally televised news conference with his wife and their three other adult children. Erving asked for the nation's help in finding _ and safely returning _ his son.

``I'm begging, wishing, hoping and I'm praying,'' said the Hall of Famer and former NBA MVP.

Erving openly discussed his son's learning disability and his drug problems that date back to when Cory was 14.

``Since eighth grade he has been in special classes to deal with the disability ... it's a mild form of dyslexia,'' Erving noted, while describing a very close family in shock and pain over the disappearance.

``There has never been one time when there has ever been a lack of communication in our family. ... For Cory to be out of the circle brings about great concern,'' he said.

His family described Cory as a fun-loving prankster.

``Sometimes, just in support of him, we would tease him about all the diplomas he's garnered from drug rehab centers. ... He has about five or six of them,'' his father said in subdued tones.

``This bad dream has gone on for 16 days now ... 16 bad days,'' Erving said. ``We are in dire need of help.''

A $25,000 reward is being offered for the son's safe return, and Seminole County Sheriff Don Eslinger reports the search has expanded, with his office passing along information on Cory to law enforcement authorities nationwide.

``We've had no critical witnesses whom we have gleaned information about his whereabouts,'' Eslinger acknowledged. ``We've exhausted many leads.''

Eslinger speculated that Cory might have had a confrontation with someone before he disappeared, but he did not elaborate.

Fliers put out by the sheriff's office list Cory Erving as a ``Missing and Endangered Adult''. Officials said that was because his whereabouts are not known, and that the description does not imply physical or mental impairment.

The flier also said he ``may be in the company of a white female with blonde hair who may drive a white vehicle,'' without giving any further details.

Last year, Julius Erving acknowledged he is the father of tennis player Alexandra Stevenson. Her mother, sports writer Samantha Stevenson, raised her as a single parent.