Many people envision sports stars as pinnacles of determination and discipline, and many professional athletes have proven how hard they had to work to be better than all the competition out there. But for those with the drive and grit to work hard and outshine their peers, professional sports can open up many tantalizing doors.
Few know the draw of being a professional athlete as well as the former NBA star Delonte West. Although he eventually made it to the big leagues, West started life in a position that didn’t offer him many options. The basketball player easily had one of the toughest childhoods out of his professional peer set.
West’s parents had been divorced since he was a young boy, and his family never had much money. At school, he was bullied incessantly because of various things, but his red hair was a particular point of attraction for his tormentors. He felt like an outsider with no real place to call his own.
In September 2009, West was stopped by police in Washington, D.C., pulled off of his motorcycle, and searched.
That was until the young boy discovered basketball. West exhibited extraordinary talent in the sport from a young age and started to invest almost all of his time into honing his skills. However, he had his first serious injury at the age of 12, when he hurt his leg. Being sidelined also gave West his first taste of a deep depression.
Nonetheless, West recovered and found his way back to the court, where he rocketed to the top of his peer group once more. Soon, he excelled in college basketball, and with an excellent record, he was finally drafted. Starting out with the Celtics and ending up with the Cavaliers, West landed a $16 million contract.
West’s Fame and His Fiery Fall
West had made his childhood dreams of playing in the NBA a reality. He stood beside basketball greats such as LeBron James, and although he had a rocky start in the NBA, with numerous injuries holding him back, it was clear he had the skills to justify his position. But a psychological evaluation would soon shake the athlete.
Few people knew where to look for the NBA athlete, although he had been spotted accepting cash donations, according to sources.
After West showed some animosity toward his fellow teammates, he went to see a psychologist and was eventually diagnosed with bipolar disorder. This meant the athlete experienced severe bouts of happiness and extreme phases of depression. But soon, the diagnosis would be overshadowed by another development in West’s life.
In September 2009, West was stopped by police in Washington, D.C., pulled off of his motorcycle, and searched. Law enforcement officials found three guns on his person, and he was subsequently arrested. The news showed the up-and-coming NBA star in a new light, leaving many wondering what he did while not on the court.
West got off lightly, avoiding prison time. Unfortunately, his professional career was starting to take a dip, and soon, West was facing financial problems. During an NBA lockout, West had no incoming money and had to take a job at a Home Depot to make ends meet while selling memorabilia on the side.
When the NBA got back on its feet, West’s career slowly started slipping, and he eventually ended up with the Dallas Mavericks. He had one chance left to make a rebound, but ultimately, his basketball career was coming to an end. A severe injury marked the end of his athletic career, and West’s life took a dark turn.
By the end of 2015, West disappeared entirely. No one knew where he was or what he was doing for a living. But soon, West was filmed in a street fight, and later, he was spotted on the side of the road with a cardboard sign that read, “Please help.” Few people were looking out for West, but one familiar face decided to find him.
How West Turned His Life Around
West was at his lowest after his career ended. Every now and again, footage of West out on the streets would circulate, prompting many fans to ask the NBA to help their former player. Fans found him, upon occasion, drifting or panhandling for cash, and many reported that the ex-NBA star was homeless for a long time.
Few people knew where to look for the NBA athlete, although he had been spotted accepting cash donations, according to sources. Finally, someone West had had a close relationship with for years decided to drive around and look for him. After a long search, Dallas Mavericks owner, Mark Cuban, found West.
Cuban arranged to meet West at a gas station, and the businessman was filmed picking up the player in his car in 2020. Cuban commented, “I can just confirm that I found him and helped him. The rest is up to Delonte and his family to tell.”
Cuban reportedly paid for West to go to rehab to kick a substance dependency, hoping the former NBA star would get back on his feet. While West was ambling around, his wife, Caressa Suzzette Madden, and two kids had returned to Madden’s hometown, where they lived with her mother.
Cuban gave West another opportunity to participate in Ice Cube’s BIG3 league, but West failed to show up despite being given the chance to get his act together. Nonetheless, West insisted that he still wanted to participate in the NBA, hopefully as a coach.
After another video of him panhandling for cash at the side of a road in Virginia circulated in 2022, West assured fans that he was doing fine. Although he confessed to being “in between jobs,” the former athlete assured people that he was doing what was necessary to survive.
In July 2022, West did another interview, this time looking clear-eyed and talking about the efforts Cuban had put in to ensure West was getting his life back on track. Although he hasn’t made a comeback to the NBA, West now works for a flooring company, doing his best to be a good dad for his two boys.