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Silvia Pavlof December 18, 2023 3 min read
NBA Legend Charles Barkley Reveals Childhood of Bootlegging and Gambling
Confronted with financial hardships, Barkley's family resorted to unconventional methods to make a living
In a revelation that adds a unique chapter to the life story of NBA legend Charles Barkley, the former basketball star disclosed that his family ran an underground casino and engaged in bootlegging during his childhood in Leeds, Alabama. Barkley, known for his colorful personality both on and off the court, unveiled these details in his newly authorized biography by Timothy Bella.
Barkley’s Childhood Home Transformed into a Gambling Hub During Weekends
Barkley’s family, facing financial challenges, turned to unconventional means to make ends meet in the 1960s and early 1970s. Barkley disclosed that his mother, Charcey Barkley, and stepfather, Clee Glenn, operated card games and sold bootlegged liquor out of their home, transforming it into a weekend gambling and drinking hub.
Recalling the events, Barkley conveyed that the house resembled a casino during weekends, where individuals would gather from Friday to Sunday to engage in drinking and gambling.
The family’s choice to engage in bootlegging stemmed from financial constraints, as Barkley’s mother noted in the biography, questioning the limited earnings one could achieve through employment in a meatpacking factory or as a maid. She explained that selling alcohol became a pragmatic solution to their economic challenges.
Barkley’s admission about his family’s past aligns with a trend seen in other athletes, such as Phil Mickelson, John Daly, Floyd Mayweather, Pete Rose, and Michael Jordan, who have acknowledged their affinity for casinos. In a 2007 interview, Barkley confessed to losing at least $20 million, calling it a stupid but affordable habit.
Charles Barkley’s Triumph Over Adversity, from Segregation to NBA Glory
Despite his gambling tendencies, Barkley’s life journey is one of overcoming adversity. He broke color barriers in Alabama, being the first Black child born at Leed’s segregated hospital. His grandfather’s influence played a crucial role in ensuring Barkley’s delivery at the hospital, where a full blood transfusion cured him of severe anemia.
Barkley’s story took an interesting turn as he transitioned from his unconventional childhood to becoming a successful NBA player. While Barkley’s family once resorted to bootlegging, their fortunes changed as he rose to fame in the NBA.
With a net worth of $50 million, Barkley’s success has elevated his family out of financial hardship, making their past reliance on illegal activities a distant memory.
Even dough his career in the NBA ended in 2000, Barkley found himself in a marketing partnership with FanDuel in 2020, showcasing his enduring appeal and marketability. This year, FanDuel featured Barkley in its “Think Like a Player” campaign. Utilizing cutting-edge deepfake technology to create a version of Barkley from the 1990s, the campaign aimed to engage audiences and promote FanDuel’s Same Game Parlay offerings.