Marvin “Bad News” Barnes was considered a future Hall of Fame basketball player before he even graduated from college. A standout at Providence (averaging 20.7 points and 17.9 rebounds a game, and leading the Friars to the NCAA Final Four in 1973), Barnes was a consensus 1974 All-American with the world at his fingertips.
Although Barnes enjoyed two flamboyantly successful years in the American Basketball Association with the colorful Spirits of St. Louis – where he won 1974-75 Rookie of the Year honors, as well as All-Star accolades both seasons – his career quickly fizzled in the post-merger NBA, where he wore out his welcome with the Detroit Pistons, Buffalo Braves, Boston Celtics, and San Diego Clippers in just four years. By 1980, Barnes’ unpredictable idiosyncrasies – fueled by chronic drug and alcohol abuse – had turned a can’t-miss pro basketball superstar into a prematurely past-his-prime has-been.
Longtime Boston sportswriter Mike Carey ("Bad News": The Turbulent Life of Marvin Barnes, Pro Basketball's Original Renegade) joins this week’s show to delve into the tragic story of a supremely gifted athlete whose self-destructive nature took him from sure-fire basketball greatness to a life of homeless panhandling, drug dealing and pimping on the mean streets of East San Diego, and five years in prison.
Even with seemingly limitless chances to turn things around, Barnes was repeatedly undone by predictable slides back into addiction and reckless behavior – ultimately succumbing to acute cocaine and heroin intoxication in 2014 at age 62.
The story of Marvin Barnes is one of squandered talent, met by tragically unconquerable inner demons.
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