Skip to main content

Delonte West: From NBA Player To His Fall From Grace

Delonte West: From NBA Player To His Fall From Grace

One of the saddest, most tragic stories about an NBA player is the story of former NBA player, Delonte West.

Delonte West was born on July 26, 1983, in Washington, D.C. Unfortunately, for Delonte, he wouldn't enjoy a storybook childhood.

Delonte's parents divorced when he was younger, and he grew up in poverty and a bad neighborhood.

Even though he and his family were poor, Delonte describes his childhood as “happy-poor”.

He would live with a few relatives, not staying in one home for very long.

It was apparent at an early age that something wasn't right mentally for Delonte.

When he was 12, he suffered a leg injury, which forced him to miss basketball.

Basketball was the one place where Delonte felt at ease. As a biracial kid growing up with red hair, the other kids in his neighborhood would pick on him.

Delonte didn't feel like he could fit in with anyone. The only place where he felt comfort was on the basketball court. So, this injury set him off.

Delonte began skipping school. In his mind, if he couldn't play ball at school, then why go?

Things would continue to get worse with Delonte. He fell into a deep depression that caused him to try multiple suicide attempts.

Delonte would be in and out of hospitals a lot during this time, and his mother couldn't handle it.

She felt that Delonte moving in with his father would help him out.

She would be wrong in her assumption. Delonte's father didn't care one ounce about the problems his son was having.

On top of depression, a mother who couldn't handle him, and a father who couldn't have cared less, Delonte met some questionable guys at his new school (where his father lived).

These “bad influences” Delonte now found himself around, helped lead him to a prescription pill and alcohol addiction.

Eventually, though, Delonte's leg injury would heal, and he would find himself back in his happy place, on a basketball court.

By the time Delonte was in high school, he became a bonafide basketball star. Delonte attended Eleanor Roosevelt High School in Greenbelt, Maryland.

In his senior year, Delonte averaged 20.2 points, 6.5 rebounds, 3.9 assists, and 3.1 steals per game. This was good enough to earn him Washington Post All-Met Basketball Player of the Year.

Delonte led his team to their first tournament appearance, where they made it to the Maryland 4A championship.

In the championship game, Delonte played well. He scored 22 points and grabbed 8 rebounds. Even with his solid performance, his team lost, 70-58.

High School may not have ended the way Delonte wanted, but his focus would now shift to college ball.

Delonte would enroll at Saint Joseph's University, and he'd play alongside future NBA player, Jameer Nelson.

By the time Delonte was a junior, he and Jameer Nelson were regarded as the best backcourt in the country.

With their play, the Saint Joseph's Hawks finished 27–1 in the regular season, earning an Elite Eight spot in the NCAA Tournament. The Hawks finished the year with a 30–2 record.

Delonte left Saint Joseph's after his junior year and entered the 2004 NBA Draft. There, he was the 24th pick selected by the Boston Celtics.

Delonte's new-founded good luck would be derailed in his rookie season. He dealt with injuries that caused him to appear in only 39 games.

By his second season, Delonte's luck would change back to positive.

He became the Celtics starting point guard, and he had some good moments throughout the season.

In a game against the Minnesota Timberwolves, Delonte scored a career-high 31 points while making a career-high 12 free throw shots, in a double-overtime Celtics victory.

All 31 of Delonte's points came in the second half and the two overtimes of the Celtic's 124-117 victory.

Delonte showed signs of having the “clutch gene” by hitting a game-winning buzzer-beater against the Charlotte Bobcats on November 8, 2006.

He also nailed a game-tying three-pointer with 4 seconds remaining in regulation against the New Jersey Nets on March 3, 2007.

This “clutch gene” would follow Delonte to Cleveland, when he landed there in a trade in 2008.

On April 27, 2008, in a playoff game against the Washington Wizards, Delonte hit the biggest shot of his entire career.

It was game 4 between the Cavs and Wizards. The Cavs held a 2-1 series lead. With 5.4 seconds remaining in the game, LeBron James made a pass to a wide-open Delonte West, who nailed the game-winning three.

The Cavs went up 3-1, and they'd eventually take the series 4-2. Delonte West and LeBron James connecting on the three to win game 4 was a positive connection.

In 2010, the Cavs were in the middle of a heated Eastern Conference Semifinals matchup against the Boston Celtics.

This is where Delonte and LeBron's connection would become strained, as well as LeBron's relationship with the Cavaliers.

The Cavs held a 2-1 series lead over the Celtics. Right before game 4, LeBron James would reportedly learn of some disheartening news about his teammate, Delonte West.

It's been reported that LeBron discovered that Delonte was sleeping with his mother, Gloria James.

The story was broken by a WCWP sportswriter, who had sources that worked in Cleveland's arena. Here's what he said about the incident:

”My uncle is the general contractor at the Q and has been for the last seven years. He’s good friends with a lot of guys at the Q, including some of the bigger boys in the organization, and knows Dan Gilbert personally. My uncle has been told that Delonte has been having interactions with Gloria James (LeBron’s mom) for some time now. Somehow LeBron found out before Game Four and it destroyed their chemistry and divided the team. I am not making this up, I wish it wasn’t true but it happened."

The alleged affair was never 100% confirmed, but in a 2014 interview, Delonte West did with Vice Sports, he sort of confirmed it???

When speaking about his son, Delonte explained why he didn't name him Delonte Jr.:

“I named my son Cash after Cassius Clay and Johnny Cash…His middle name is Delonte but I didn’t want to name him Delonte West Jr. just because of that… I don’t want my son going to school and people making fun of him for something his daddy did, “Oh didn’t yo daddy have sex with LeBron James mama?’ Man, I don’t want to deal with all that.”

This controversy, unfortunately, wasn't the first for Delonte in his short-lived NBA career.

In 2008, Delonte would suffer through a few breakdowns during the preseason.

He exploded on a referee during a 2008 preseason game where the Cavs lost. He also lashed out against his teammates after two preseason losses.

The Cavs organization made Delonte talk to a therapist, and from there he was diagnosed with Bipolar disorder.

Delonte initially agreed with the diagnosis, but years later he would dispute it.

In September 2009, Delonte found himself in trouble with the law.

Delonte was riding a three-wheeled motorcycle when he was stopped for a simple traffic violation. The problem was the police found three guns on Delonte's person.

He had a pistol in his waistband, revolver strapped to his leg, and shotgun in a guitar case on his back.

Delonte's reasoning for carrying the guns was because his mom told him some young family members found them in a closet.

No matter the reasoning, Delonte didn't have a permit to carry, and he eventually pleaded guilty to weapons and traffic charges.

He was sentenced to eight months of electronic monitoring, two years of probation, and 40 hours of community service and counseling.

On top of the weapons charges, Delonte's wife filed a domestic violence complaint against him in October 2009.

Delonte married his wife, who happened to be a college sweetheart, two months before the traffic stop which brought him gun charges. One month later, they got divorced.

These types of heartaches would make any person feel down, but for someone who suffers from Bipolar disorder, it hits much harder.

The Cavs would release Delonte after the 2010 season and after a year back in Boston, Delonte would end up in Dallas to play for the Mavericks.

Delonte's career in Dallas would be short-lived. After one season where he played only 44 games because of a fractured and dislocated right ring finger, the Mavs would release him the following season during the preseason.

Now, Delonte's release had nothing to do with an injury, or because of his play, it came from his unpredictable mood swings.

Twice after preseason losses, like in Cleveland, Delonte went off on a tirade against his Mavs' teammates.

After the first outburst, the Mavs suspended Delonte. Then, when he went off again, the Mavs decided to cut him from the roster. This would officially mark the end of his NBA career.

This wouldn't mark the official end to his basketball career, though. Delonte would play in several semi-pro leagues as well as a few international leagues.

In 2015, Delonte made it to the NBA D League, where he played for the Texas Legends, the minor league affiliate of the Dallas Mavericks.

This experience wouldn't last long for Delonte, as the Texas Legends would release him in March 2015. This would mark the end of his basketball career.

Delonte's hardships wouldn't end, unfortunately. In 2016, a photo went viral of a barefoot Delonte West, standing in a hospital gown in front of a Jack In The Box in Texas.

This incident happened in February. Then, just four months later in June, Delonte was spotted in Maryland, begging for money.

The idea of a former NBA player, who was a millionaire, now homeless is such a heartbreaking thought.

Of course, Delonte denied being homeless. He claims he was helping a homeless man:

“I was helping a homeless man in my neighborhood that’s paralyzed from the neck down. I parked my car and got out to help because it was 90-degree weather and I was feeling blessed at the moment for just having legs.”

Not too many people believed Delonte's story, and four years later in 2020, the world would get a real glimpse into how bad things are for the former NBA player.

In January 2020, another video of Delonte West went viral. This time, it was a video of Delonte getting beat up in the middle of the street by an unidentified man.

Delonte appeared to be homeless, and he certainly didn't look well. Bodycam footage would also be released of Delonte after being put into handcuffs.

In the video, Delonte rambled on about being a Navy SEAL, and how he's the real President of the United States. Something certainly wasn't right with Delonte West.

After these videos went viral, support from NBA players, to GMs poured out on Social Media.

One of these GMs was Boston Celtic GM Danny Ainge. He gave Delonte a scouting job with the Celtics, but Delonte's inner demons would mess this opportunity up.

Delonte's attendance was very inconsistent, which led to the Celtics releasing him from his duties.

“Delonte has obviously some troubles and some trials that he’s trying to deal with in his life, and I just hope that he can fix his life and get back on a good path,” Danny Ainge said after releasing Delonte from the scouting position.

In September 2020, Delonte was seen in Dallas holding up a sign and asking for money. There was no way Delonte could deny now that he was homeless.

Dallas Mavericks owner, Mark Cuban, reached out to Delonte West and finally, after several attempts, Delonte agreed to meet him.

Mark Cuban ended up paying for Delonte to go to a drug rehabilitation treatment center. He even paid for a hotel room for Delonte to stay in.

Things appeared to be getting better for Delonte West. Mark Cuban posted a photo of Delonte riding a horse at the treatment center with this caption:

“Ladies & Gentlemen, I present to you, Delonte West. A long, long, long way to go, but he has taken the first steps and shared these with all of us as a thank you for the love and support.”

Reports came out that Delonte now has a job at the very treatment center where he checked in at. The entire NBA world started to exhale, believing things were getting better for the former player.

Then, less than a month ago, Delonte West ended up in the news once again for the wrong reasons.

Delonte was banging on the doors of the Boynton Beach police station in Florida. He held a couple of bottles of beer, and he had Vodka on him.

After the police came outside and restrained him, Delonte would then cuss and harass the police officers.

He'd claim to be an undercover agent and Jesus Christ. He also claimed to be better than both Michael Jordan and LeBron James at basketball.

It's truly heartbreaking to see a once-promising athlete suffer through terrible mental health problems.

We all hope and pray for Delonte West to continue to seek the help he needs, and we'd all love to see him healthy, happy, and back out on a basketball court one day. 

Next 

From Superstar To Super Role Player: The Story Of Why Ron Harper Is Better Than You Remember

Top 10 Biggest Surprises From The Start Of The 2021/22 Season: Paul George's Superb Form, Damian Lillard's Shooting Slump, Bulls' Elite Level

Shaqtastic: The Story Of Why Shaquille O'Neal Is One Of The Coolest Athletes Ever

From Undrafted To NBA Champion And Hall Of Famer: The Ben Wallace Story

David Robinson vs. Shaquille O'Neal: The Story Of How The Admiral Won The Scoring Title With A 71-Point Game