‘He’s not this person they portray him to be’ – the other side of the Sebastian Telfair story

‘He’s not this person they portray him to be’ – the other side of the Sebastian Telfair story

Fifteen Brooklyn summers earlier than he wept inside a courtroom – earlier than he was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in jail on gun costs, earlier than one final impassioned plea of innocence – Sebastian Telfair may as properly have been Coney Island’s king.

He was a phenom in each sense of the phrase, an outstanding hooper with phenomenal hype. A 3-time metropolis champ and Sports activities Illustrated coverboy, the topic of a documentary and e-book, the explanation gyms erupted and overflowed, teeming with cameras. Jay-Z sauntered into his locker room. NBA execs lurked at his practices. When it got here time to announce that he’d forgo school and enter the 2004 draft, an emcee launched him as “Sebastian Telfair, New York Metropolis highschool legend.”

“He was,” famed sneaker govt Sonny Vaccaro tells Yahoo Sports activities, “the annointed baby.”

Simply as notably, in response to Vaccaro, he was “bubbly. He had this effervescent smile.” He was, says an individual acquainted with Lincoln Excessive Faculty basketball on the time, “a completely fantastic child. And all of his lecturers would inform you a similar factor.”

Telfair’s charisma received over locals and outsiders, a lot of whom flocked to Coney Island for autographs or only a glimpse. It helped win over Adidas, which signed him to a multi-million-dollar shoe contract out of highschool, and the Portland Path Blazers, who chosen him with their 13th general choose.

“His ebullient persona, his handsomeness,” Vaccaro raves. “He was all the things lovable, all of the issues had been constructive.

“Besides,” he now realizes, “the top end result.”

Sebastian Telfair was such an enormous phenom that adidas signed him to a shoe contract straight out of highschool. (Getty Photographs)

From highschool to the NBA

On the courtroom, hype outpaced expertise. At the very least on the NBA degree. There’s a cause Telfair was the primary diminutive lead guard to make the prep-to-pro soar. He was a 6-foot scorer with an inconsistent jumper. He’d finally finish his profession with a 3-point share under 32. For all his capability and allure, he was an inconvenient match for the mid-2000s league he entered.

That inconvenience prolonged away from the hardwood as properly. Fifteen years in the past, franchises didn’t allocate adequate sources to aiding teenage execs. “The NBA wasn’t actually arrange for 19-year-olds at the moment,” Telfair’s second full-time coach in Portland, Nate McMillan, advised Bleacher Report in 2017.

Plus, McMillan added: “Given all of the hype coming in, Sebastian undoubtedly had some teammates who checked out him in a different way.”

After two years, the Path Blazers shipped him to Boston. A yr after that – and after Telfair was arrested on a gun possession cost – the Celtics despatched him to Minnesota. Two summers later, he was off to the Clippers in one other commerce, then headed to Cleveland on the deadline in a three-team deal, then a part of a 3rd commerce in 12 months the next offseason. He spent extra time in Minnesota, then in Phoenix, then Toronto, then Oklahoma Metropolis – in between stints in China. He by no means averaged greater than 10 factors per sport. He by no means noticed a playoff flooring.

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But he hung across the league for a decade – longer than two of the three gamers drafted instantly forward of him. He made tens of thousands and thousands of {dollars}. “He was up and down,” Vacarro says. “However he performed, he performed 9 years within the league, he was good!

“It wasn’t like he had this damaging angle. I by no means heard unhealthy issues within the league, aside from that he obtained harm a pair occasions, and he wasn’t large enough to protect someone. He stayed a very long time. He was a authentic NBA participant.”

Someplace alongside the best way, although, life seemingly led him astray.

Telfair’s troubles

The official, on-record, jury-stamped model of the story goes like this: With evening having lengthy since fallen on Brooklyn and three a.m. approaching on the morning of June 11, 2017, Sebastian Telfair and his teenage cousin had been stopped by police. They had been requested to step out of Telfair’s royal blue Ford F-150. Officers searched it, claiming a marijuana blunt was their possible trigger. They discovered three semi-automatic pistols; a semi-automatic rifle; a ballistic vest; tons of of extra bullets; and weed.

It wasn’t the primary time Telfair had been arrested. Over a decade earlier, a little bit earlier than four a.m. on April 20, 2007 – round 30 hours after he scored two factors in 20 minutes in a Recreation 82 Celtics loss – he was pulled over for going 77 miles per hour on a 45. Officers discovered a loaded handgun within the automotive, and that Telfair was driving with a suspended license. He pled responsible to a weapon cost and obtained three years probation.

The 2017 incident additionally wasn’t the final of Telfair’s troubles. His marriage deteriorated. In January of 2018, TMZ reported that his spouse, Samantha, obtained an emergency restraining order in opposition to Telfair after alleging that the ex-NBAer had gone on what TMZ described as a “violent window-smashing rampage at their house.” Samantha, in response to the report, claimed that Telfair had “grow to be more and more hostile, unstable and violent.”

The dots – from the violence, crime and hardship of Coney Island initiatives, the place Telfair grew up, to his maturity arrests – had been simple to attach. A logical narrative shaped. Different previous incidents, plus an allegedly unpaid bank card invoice for which Telfair was sued final yr, accentuated it. All of this was introduced up in a messy April trial. Telfair was convicted and confronted between three-and-a-half and 15 years behind bars. On Monday, he obtained the minimal, however nonetheless broke down in anguish.

“He’s fairly the bawler,” learn the primary line of the New York Submit’s story.

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“Former NBA star Sebastian Telfair hit with 3½ years within the slammer,” learn the Every day Information’ headline.

New York hoopheads puzzled the place it had all gone flawed for considered one of their favourite sons.

That’s one model of the Sebastian Telfair story.

The opposite facet of the story

At 2:19 a.m. ET Tuesday, I acquired a name from a girl who recognized herself as Labell Chacon, a pal of Telfair’s who’d acquired my inquiry. And it grew to become clear there was one other model.

“I’m simply now getting an opportunity to take a seat down and browse a number of the articles, and that’s why I needed to name you instantly,” Chacon mentioned. “They’re fully attacking him. And it’s unhappy.”

Telfair’s group, she mentioned, has “what we consider is substantial proof that the arresting officer perjured his testimony.” She questioned the occasions that led to the automotive search. She claimed that the weapons had been licensed (in Florida); that Telfair, who’d had belongings shipped again house to New York, was unaware they had been within the automotive; and that “he obtained ambushed,” figuratively, by the prosecution.

“He’s not this particular person they painting him to be,” Chacon mentioned. “He’s a superb man.”

The cut up along with his spouse, Chacon mentioned, had been “emotionally tough” for Telfair. The end result was “turmoil.” However she painted an image of a person whose life hadn’t fully fallen aside.

Telfair based an organization, 99 Strikes, underneath which he launched a clothes line and a hip-hop album. The album title, “Take 2,” was a reference to what Chacon calls his concentrate on “establishing a Take 2 of his life.”

“In fact he beloved basketball,” she mentioned. “However he additionally loves music. He additionally loves different issues. He was attempting to discover these ventures.” He wished to usher in promising artists. “He’s all the time been about serving to different folks come up. He wished to try this so unhealthy with music. … Truly, to make use of his phrases: ‘I wish to deliver music again to Coney Island.’ ”

Telfair, she mentioned, “was occupied with beginning some music packages” again in his hometown. “As a result of earlier than, they used to exit and play basketball,” she explains. “And now he goes to the courts and he sees no one. And I feel that sense of group has been misplaced. And he was attempting to regain that. … Considered one of his concepts was to do a music middle. The place youngsters can come and expertise music, and rap, and write, and carry out. Kinda like a gymnasium, however for music.”

Chacon despatched a résumé of kinds that listed Telfair’s group contributions through the years, an try to color him in a special mild. She mentioned Telfair, now 34, is financially steady. She even mentioned she thought he supposed to return to basketball previous to the arrest.

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When requested why Telfair owned the weapons, Chacon mentioned: “I imply, he’s an American. He’s in Florida, he’s licensed, he in fact desires to guard his household identical to every other American. It is his Second Modification proper, is not it?”

However the clarification goes past that. “If he favored good automobiles, he would wish to get 4 – let’s put it in that sense,” Chacon mentioned. “The identical utilized to all the things else, even the licensed weapons. There was no sick will. He was only a collector.”

With New York clocks having ticked previous Three a.m., Chacon vowed that she and Telfair’s group would preserve preventing.

On Tuesday afternoon, Sylvester Telfair, Sebastian’s oldest brother, wished to broach one other matter.

“Right here’s the factor that company America, white America, established America, no matter, that is what they should perceive,” he mentioned over the telephone. He delved into the historical past of New York gun legal guidelines. He talked about the NCAA’s current ‘Wealthy Paul Rule.’ After which he obtained to the purpose: “That is all synonymous [with] institutionalized racism.”

A number of Telfair siblings really feel it applies to this case. They usually need that on document. “Sure. Quote me,” Sylvester mentioned, his voice rising. “One thing excessive must occur.”

“So that you can not see that Sebastian Telfair was harmless, so that you can not see that these police was mendacity, so that you can not see that the choose was being malic[ious], you’re an American Notsee,” he continued. “And after I say ‘Notsee,’ don’t say Nazi like Nazi Germany, put the N-O-T and S-E-E. American Notsee.

“If Sebastian Telfair’s title was Jerry Seinfeld, Sebastian Telfair can be house proper now.

“This,” he concluded with drive, “is a victimless crime!”

‘That wasn’t the kid I knew’

So did Sebastian Telfair’s life collapse earlier than Monday’s sentencing? Or did the trial, which Telfair’s group believes was unfair, drive it aside?

Both method, truthful or not, jail beckons. Telfair, as Vaccaro says, “battled by way of Coney Island. He obtained out. He obtained out on a chariot. He was the king.”

Fifteen years later, he’s headed someplace a disproportionate quantity of underprivileged youngsters from disenfranchised communities get despatched.

As an 18-year-old, he was distinctive. He’s now no exception.

“I imply, he went from heaven to hell,” Vaccaro says, referencing the sentence.

The famed shoe exec retired in 2007, and fell out of contact with Telfair when the previous Lincoln star entered the league. However as courtroom proceedings performed out this yr, and when the information got here down Monday, mates texted him updates.

“I learn these items,” Vaccaro mentioned. “That wasn’t the kid I knew.

“Sebastian would’ve been probably the most unlikely child in my life that I assumed would find yourself like this.”

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Henry Bushnell is a options author for Yahoo Sports activities. Have a tip? Query? Remark? E mail him at, or observe him on Twitter @HenryBushnell, and on Fb.

About the author


Chris Helton

Chris is a well experienced basketball player and has won many championships. He intends to build a bright career in the media industry as well. He is a sports freak who loves to cover the latest news on sports and health.

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