When Delonte West was arrested two years ago for carrying three guns and a knife on him after being pulled over on his motorcycle, the majority of hoops fans just chalked it up to another NBA player trying to live the thug life and attempting to keep his rep. In all fairness to the average fan, it was hard not to think that. We had heard these stories before. We had seen the rap sheets. A story about an NBA player being arrested for guns didn't shock anyone.
The only thing that might have been shocking was that the culprit this time was the quiet, mild-mannered Delonte West.
In a recent interview with SLAM Magazine, West was finally able to tell the world his side of the story regarding that life-altering night. It is an absolute must-read.
After the ’09 season ended with his Cavaliers getting knocked out by the Orlando Magic in the Conference Finals, West returned home to Maryland and set about finding a good place to store the weapons, which he saw more as collector’s items. He chose the recording studio.
Tucked away in his fully finished basement, West’s studio is his sanctuary. Off limits to children, the sparsely furnished wood paneled room is his home within his home. All of that’s why he thought it was the perfect stash spot. Everything was fine—the guns remained safely hidden—until, on the night of September 17, feeling unusually tired, West went to his bedroom pretty early, took his nightly dose of Seroquel (a drug that treats bipolar disorder) and got in bed. Shortly after falling asleep, he was startled awake by shouting.
“Ma Dukes came running upstairs into my room, cursing me, saying she wanted all these MFers out of my house,” recalls West. “I came to like, What’s going on? I was already on my Seroquel trip. A few of my cats had found some stuff in the studio and they were living the whole gangsta life thing—guns in the air and this and that,” continues West. “And I said, ‘Oh my God. What the f*** are y’all doin’ in here? Y’all got to go. Momma ain’t on that. Kids are running around upstairs. It’s time to go.’”
Gassed up from the commotion, West decided it would be prudent for him to relocate the guns to an empty house he owned nearby. So, with his other vehicles blocked in by guests’ cars, and expecting it to be a short trip, he haphazardly loaded up his Can-Am and placed the weapons in a Velcro-type of bag—“not a desperado, hardcase, gun-shooting-out-the-side type case”—and set off.
“I’m on the Beltway, cruisin’,” West says, voice high, emotional and inimitable. “Soon I start realizing I’m dozing in and out. I open my eyes and I went from this lane to that. I’m swervin’, and by the time I wake up, I’m about three exits past my exit.
“There’s this truck flying beside me—” West pauses; this next part is crucial—“and I’m scared to death. So I seen an officer coming up and I try to flag him down. I pull up next to him. He slows down and I get up in front of him. I tell the officer I’m not functioning well and I’m transporting weapons… The rest of the story is what it is.
“I’m not proud of it,” concludes West, “but it looks way worse than it was.”
West also discusses his bipolar disorder in the piece. He talks about how there are times when he can't seem to snap out of feeling sad or doesn't even know that he's feeling that way. He opened up about his life on house arrest during this past season, which included him being required to call his probation officer four times a day, not being allowed to arrive early or stay late for practices and attending some team events. He even has a couple of lines regarding the infamous rumor regarding LeBron James' mom.
It looks like West is finally being able to get his life back on track. His house arrest is over and his legal issues are behind him. An unrestricted free agent, NBA teams still know his worth. He wants long-term financial security and there's a good chance that he'll get that wherever he signs. Hopefully that can happen in Boston.
Regardless, the SLAM piece is something that needed to be read yesterday. So what are you waiting for?