NBA

Delonte West: Former NBA player in heartbreaking viral videos was once a star at St. Joseph’s University

ADVERTISEMENT

When Delonte West left the St. Joseph’s University basketball team in 2004 to enter the NBA Draft, it would have been hard to imagine the promising player ever begging at gas stations.

But that’s exactly what happened to him.

ADVERTISEMENT

Several videos of the former star and the lifestyle he now leads in Virginia have gone viral on social media this summer.

In June, he was filmed begging for money, strolling through a convenience store parking lot, and answering questions from fans who recognized him on the street with a surprisingly positive attitude.

This week, another fan found West at a gas station in Virginia. He took the time to give the young boy some uplifting advice.

“Keep working hard, you know what I mean?” he said. “If they can do it, you can do it.”

The boy’s mother was curious about West’s disgrace. She wanted to know what had happened to the surroundings 20 million dollars he won during his eight years in the NBA.

“I took care of all my family,” he said, noting that he bought homes for many of his relatives and paid for some to go to college. “I stand on my own two (feet)…I don’t expect anything in return.”

West was also very open when he was interviewed by another fan a few days earlier.

“Sometimes I even forget that I play basketball,” he said.

TMZ followed that up with a interview where West directly addressed begging.

“It is what it is,” West said. “I have kids. I’m between jobs. People can help me out as much as they can, but you know, as a man, I have to do what I have to do for my babies.”

West was a freshman at St. Joe’s in 2001. He came from Eleanor Roosevelt High School in Greenbelt, Maryland, near Washington DC, where he was named All Met Basketball Player of the Year by The Washington Post.

At St. Joe’s, West and Jameer Nelson – a Chester native who was the 2004 NCAA Player of the Year – captained what was widely regarded as one of the best backcourts in American college basketball in the time.

West had a great junior year in 2004, when the Hawks went 30-2 and made it into the elite eight of the March Madness tournament. He averaged 18.9 points and 4.7 assists per game that year.

Instead of returning to St. Joe’s for his senior year, West opted to go into the draft and was signed by the Boston Celtics in the first round as the 24th overall pick.

During an eight-year NBA career, he also played for the Seattle Supersonics, Cleveland Cavaliers and Dallas Mavericks. He averaged 9.7 points, 3.6 assists, and 2.9 rebounds per game.

But West’s success on the court early in his career clouded his long-standing mental health issues.

He’s struggled since his teens, but in October 2008, West had to leave Cavaliers training camp due to a mental health crisis and was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

In September 2009 he was arrested after being pulled over for a traffic violation and was found in possession of three firearms which he was not permitted to carry. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to two years of unsupervised probation and 40 hours of community service.

It was during this time that West allegedly had an affair with the mother of his Cavaliers teammate, Lebron James. Although he denied this, West has also stoked the rumor mill on social media over the years.

West grew up in poverty, so now that he was earning millions in the NBA, he didn’t mind spending money on his loved ones.

But it seems he did it at his own expense. During the 2011 NBA lockout, West was reportedly broke. He applied for a job at Home Depot and eventually worked at a furniture store because he couldn’t play overseas during his probation.

At this point, the best days of West’s basketball career were behind him.

His stint in the NBA ended in October 2012 when the Mavericks suspended him indefinitely after he allegedly fell out with teammates over preseason losses. West then played in the NBA D-league and professionally in China and Venezuela, but an injury ended his career for good in 2015.

That’s when reports of West living on the streets and begging began to surface online.

In 2020, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban took his former player under his wing by picking him up from a gas station in Texas and paying him to attend rehab in Florida.

Although West kept clean for a while and got a job at the facility, he was arrested last year on public intoxication and related charges.

Things were looking up this spring when West was included in rapper Ice Cube’s BIG3 draft, a three-on-three league populated mostly by aging NBA veterans.

But West was not chosen and a few weeks later he resurfaced in Virginia.

ADVERTISEMENT