Many of us know the tumultuous story of Delonte West. The 24th pick in the 2004 NBA draft spent 8 years in the league. During his stint, he garnered a respectable 4,000 career points in 45 games while earning more than $16 million during his tenure in Boston, Seattle, Cleveland and Dallas.
The downward spiral began in 2008 when he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and was only intensified in 2010 when rumors began to circulate widely that he had slept with then teammate LeBron James’ mother. A year later, during the NBA lockout, West tweeted:
He followed this up with a tweet of his application. Both tweets have since been deleted.
West bowed out of the league in 2012, proceeding to bounce around the D-League and international ball until being let go by the Texas Legends in 2015.
For most athletes, the end of their career marks the end of the limelight. Delonte wasn’t as lucky.
In February, pictures surfaced online of West roaming a Jack In The Box parking lot in Houston, reportedly wearing a hospital robe and no shoes. The fan who snapped the picture approached West and asked, “are you Delonte West?” to which West allegedly replied, “I used to be, but I’m not about that life anymore.”
Fast forward four months, and Delonte is in the news yet again for similar reasons. This Sunday, he was spotted in Maryland roaming the streets in disheveled clothing and carrying a cardboard sign.
The Twitter user who captured the image posted, “Let’s Pray for Delonte West y’all. He bipolar and on St. Barnabas Road bumming smh. He ain’t taking his medicine.” The internet quickly took hold, running the story that West is now homeless and begging for money.
So what’s the lesson to learn from West’s story? You can’t believe every rumor you hear.
While it’s true that West was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, it appears the immense fall from grace has been largely exaggerated, starting with the rumor that he was f**king LeBron James’ mom. Deadspin ran a great piece outlining the timeline of West’s alleged indiscretion, and a quick look at the facts show that the word on the street isn’t necessarily accurate.
The “sources” circulating the rumor all seemed to say the exact same thing, down to the very wording. Then, as the story started to grow legs, the allegations increased, saying Delonte wasn’t the only one involved and that everyone knew about it. But shortly after, the Cavs’ organization, LeBron James’ attorney, and Maverick Carter — advisor to James — denied the reports as utterly false.
And after stories arose regarding his begging in Maryland, Delonte denied the claims and the original picture and post have been deleted. West reached out to Media Take Out with the following quote:
“I was helping a homeless man in my neighborhood that’s paralyzed from neck down. I parked my car and got out to help because it was 90 degree weather and I as feeling blessed at the moment for just having legs.”
Why West has been the focus of so many slanderous, never proven stories, I can’t say. He was a slightly better than average NBA player, but never a superstar or face of an organization. He played 8 years in the league, more than many, but his impact on the game will not be felt for generations like some of his peers. If anything, he was simply a very good basketball player who managed to make a living out of his passion while he could.
It’s unfortunate that he has been the target of so many baseless claims and allegations over the years, and, whether true or not, no one, particularly someone who suffers from bipolar disorder, should be put through such hardships.
However, with no evidence to back up the various stories put out over the years (and adamant denials from all the parties involved), it should all be chalked up to internet rumors and nothing more.
So what’s do be done with Delonte West? How about we let him be for a change.
And as for the photo at Jack In The Box with a ragged looking West? Let’s be honest, no one looks or is at their best when eating at a Jack In The Box, am I right?