NBA legend Charles Barkley has never shied away from sharing the colorful tales of his upbringing, and in a riveting new revelation, the outspoken former basketball star discusses his family’s clandestine ventures during his childhood in Alabama. Before he became a towering figure on the hardwood floors, Barkley’s life was steeped in the world of underground casinos and bootlegging.
In Leeds, Alabama, where Barkley drew his first breath in February of 1963, the future NBA MVP spent his formative years in a household that found an unusual way to supplement their income. According to his candid disclosures in Timothy Bella’s authorized biography titled “Barkley: A Biography,” the Barkley residence transformed into a bustling hub for card games and illicit liquor sales in the 1960s and ’70s.
The atmosphere at the Barkley home on weekends, as Charles recollected, resembled that of a casino, with men congregating to engage in gambling and drinking from Friday through Sunday. Charcey Barkley and Clee Glenn, Charles’ mother and stepfather, worked regular jobs, but insufficient income led them to the risky decision to run an illegal enterprise from the comfort of their own abode.
Charcey Barkley questioned the financial viability of their day jobs in meatpacking and maid work, prompting the pair to delve into the sale of bootlegged alcohol to make ends meet. Gambling, it seems, was an inherited fascination for Charles Barkley, who, throughout his own storied career, frequented casinos much like sports figures Phil Mickelson, Floyd Mayweather, and Michael Jordan.
Despite having lost substantial sums upwards of $20 million, Barkley maintained his passion for betting. In an ESPN interview back in 2007, he described the habit as ‘stupid’, yet his financial losses never provoked him to relinquish his fondness for gambling. Even after admitting to offsetting every million-dollar win with thrice the amount in losses, Barkley recalls the thrills of pushing his luck to amass a fortune only to see it slip away in Las Vegas casinos.
From these humble and tumultuous beginnings, Barkley’s journey is a striking tale from rags to riches, defying racial barriers, and even overcoming health hurdles like severe anemia as a child through a life-saving full blood transfusion. These hardships and peculiar circumstances undoubtedly molded the resilient and charismatic individual that fans have come to admire.
Beyond his storied career and gambling exploits, Barkley continues to remain in the spotlight, embracing his penchant for betting as a brand ambassador for FanDuel. The sportsbook giant inked a multi-year deal in 2020 with Barkley, positioning him front and center in the competitive sports betting industry in the States.
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