NBA legend Charles Barkley has revealed details about his family’s involvement in running an underground casino and bootlegging operation in their Alabama home during his childhood. This revelation is part of his new authorized biography by author Timothy Bella. The 11-time NBA All-Star admits that his family turned to illicit activities to make ends meet in the 1960s and early 1970s.
Barkley shares that his family ran card games and sold bootlegged liquor out of their house. He describes the atmosphere at their home as being like a casino on the weekends, with men coming over to drink and gamble from Friday to Sunday. His mother, Charcey Barkley, explained that despite working, the family struggled to pay the bills, which led them to this side hustle.
The former NBA star also admitted to having a penchant for gambling throughout his career. In a 2007 interview with ESPN, he revealed losing at least $20 million from gambling. Despite acknowledging it as a bad habit, he stated that he could afford to gamble and had no intention of quitting. Barkley also shared a goal of winning $1 million during his trips to Las Vegas.
Additionally, Barkley’s life story includes overcoming severe anemia and breaking color barriers as he was the first Black child to be born at his city’s segregated hospital. His grandfather, who worked as a janitor at the hospital, played a role in ensuring that he was born there and called it a favor. Barkley’s association with gambling has not stopped him from being chosen as a brand ambassador for FanDuel, a major sportsbook in the US.
Despite sharing his struggles and family’s involvement in illegal activities, Barkley’s story is one of triumph, overcoming health issues, and breaking barriers. His openness about his experiences and his journey from rags to riches makes Charles Barkley a fascinating figure in sports history.