Life After the League: Delonte West

We’ve never been shy to crack the Delonte West had relations with Lebron’s mom joke.

Those forever ended this weekend.

TMZ Sports released the photos on Saturday afternoon. The story says that an NBA fan saw Delonte outside of a Jack in the Box near Houston (near where Delonte last played pro ball, for the Texas Legends in the D-League).  Shoeless. Drunk.

“Are you Delonte West?”, he asked.

“I’m not about that life any more.”

delonte west

Years ago, we easily could have cracked a few jokes about this.

But only a few months removed from the Lamar Odom incident, only inches away from death after falling into a drug, alcohol, and hooker bender, stemming from depression over relationships and the difficulty of life after basketball, there’s no laughs to have.

Delonte West’s never been easy  to understand. Quiet in words, but loud in actions. A shove here, a stare down there. While also being a gifted scorer that led St. Joe’s to an undefeated regular season in college, Delonte West was that itch you couldn’t scratch when you were playing him.

Off the court, West felt ostracized, especially after those rumors about Lebron’s mother. Add on to that a diagnosed bipolar condition, and the issues like having two guns on him when he got pulled over in 2009 make sense.

Now more than ever, it’s harder for guys to have everything and be in the spotlight, and then not be relevant any longer. Or even if it isn’t new, it’s in the spotlight with the internet. Delonte wasn’t a star, but he played on teams with Lebron, Shaq, and Boston’s big 3. He was the starting point guard on a team that won 66 games in 2008-2009. The spotlight wasn’t focused on him, but it surely brought him into the light.

Delonte’s not unstable, and basketball didn’t seem to be everything he had. He’s posted pictures of him and his kids- with refreshing smiles on all their faces. But who knows what could trigger a spiraling. Most “bad days” don’t end drunk, alone, and without shoes at Jack in the Box. Especially after Lamar, we’re more cognizant of how quickly things can get out of hand.

These issues make sense, but that doesn’t mean they’re right. And that doesn’t mean there’s nothing that can be done to fix them. Maybe it’s the NBA’s job, or the agents job. The care shown for NBA players cannot end after they leave the league. Because when it does, tragedies are inevitable.

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