There are few more polarizing personalities in the NBA than 6-foot-4 guard Delonte West. A photo of the retired 36-year-old made its rounds in social media, wherein West looked as though he had literally hit rock bottom — again.
Recently, West again found himself in a tough spot after footage of him being beaten to the ground by what appears to be a police officer went viral.
Looking at these instances, it would be easy to judge West as another NBA has-been whose inability to handle his wealth properly led to his current — alleged — homeless state. As depicted in the caption above, his drug addiction is being blamed as the primary cause of his ultimate downfall, but in truth, there’s much more to this story than meets the eye.
Delonte West was born on July 26, 1983 in Washington D.C. He grew up in a life of poverty, and early on, he already battled with mental health. At the age of 14, West sank into a depression and committed multiple attempts to take his own life.
Basketball was always his refuge, but during one of his trips to the hospital following one of his many suicide attempts, West stumbled upon God, and this is where he found his faith in the Almighty. This is what gave the trouble teen the strength to carry on with his unsavory journey, and served as the very foundation of his life.
Following a decorated career for Eleanor Roosevelt High School in Greenbelt, Maryland, wherein he would gain multiple prestigious honors including Player of the Year, West was recruited by Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. This was where the young and promising guard would make a name for himself.
West played alongside fellow future NBA pro Jameer Nelson, and in 2003, these two would lead their team to an historic undefeated regular season run, as they would go all the way to the Elite Eight in that year’s NCAA tournament. In his third and final season with St. Joseph’s, West would average 18.9 points (on 51.0 percent shooting), 5.4 rebounds, 4.7 assists, and 1.7 steals, while also connecting on 1.8 3-pointers on a 41.2-percent clip.
West would then enter himself to the 2004 NBA Draft, where he would eventually get selected by the Boston Celtics with the 24th overall pick. Three years later and the feisty guard would find himself playing alongside a young LeBron James with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
It was during this time that West would make the most money in his career, pocketing no less than $9.8 million during his three-year tenure with the Cavs. However, despite playing a significant role in a Cleveland team that would make extended playoff runs in all three of West’s seasons with the team, this was also where the beginning of the end all started for him as well.
West was involved in a nasty rumor — one that he and LeBron denies vehemently to this very day — in which West allegedly had an affair with LeBron’s mother, Gloria James. The media quickly picked up on the highly controversial narrative, and would point to this development as the reason behind Cleveland’s forgettable postseason performance in the 2009-10 season.
James infamously left the Cavs for the Miami Heat following that season, and with West being offloaded by the team that same summer, it was at this point where he would start spinning out of control.
Throughout his NBA career, though, controversy never left the side of West. In 2009, he was arrested for being caught in possession of no less than three loaded guns, including a Remington 870 shotgun. West was earlier diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and this illness was cited as the reason behind his erratic behavior.
In 2012, Delonte West would play his last NBA game, as a member of the Dallas Mavericks. Following multiple team-issued suspensions for his involvement in several heated locker room arguments, he was eventually waived by the Mavs on October 29, 2012.
West would go on to play in the NBA D-League, as well as a two-year stint in China, but despite his multiple efforts to make an NBA comeback, this would unfortunately not come to fruition.
Fast forward a few years later and photos such as the one posted above begin surfacing in social media. To this day, it is unknown if West is indeed homeless or not. What is clear is that he is not in a very good place at the moment, and appears to be in dire need of help.
It’s easy to judge a guy like Delonte West, especially if one does not know the entire story behind the man. As it turns out, West is a perfect example of an NBA star who despite all the resources he had in his possession, was simply unable to win his battle against mental health. As a matter of fact, he is still in the same fight to this very day, and we just hope that he finds the light before it’s too late.