Charles Barkley to Sell Memorabilia to Build Affordable Housing in His Alabama Hometown: 'It Would be a Really Cool Thing for Me'

Illustration for article titled Charles Barkley to Sell Memorabilia to Build Affordable Housing in His Alabama Hometown: It Would be a Really Cool Thing for Me
Photo: LISA O’CONNOR (AFP via Getty Images)

Charles Barkley is well-known for being generous with his opinions, but now the NBA hall of famer is pouring that same generosity into something a bit more benevolent: building affordable housing.

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The Washington Post reports that the one-time Round Mound of Rebound is selling memorabilia from his illustrious NBA career in order to raise funds to build affording housing in his hometown of Leeds, Ala.

“That stuff’s not that important to me. I’ve had an unbelievable life,” Barkley told Birmingham’s WJOX-FM last week. “I’ve been in Leeds a lot and we’ve probably got 30 eyesores, as I call them, where houses used to be when I was growing up. Either a rotted-out house or there’s just weeds that have overgrown. So, what I’m trying to do—I want to work with the city of Leeds. I want them to give me the spaces, number one. I want them to give me the houses, and I’m going to use my own money, selling my memorabilia.”

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For those interested, that means invaluable keepsakes like his 1993 NBA MVP trophy are up for grabs and could fetch some serious paper.

“I got an autograph deal with [Italian memorabilia company] Panini and I was talking to the guys,” Barkley said. “All that stuff is at my grandmother’s house; I don’t even keep it, to be honest with you. And I said, ‘How much could I get for my MVP trophy and my two [Olympic] gold medals? And I got an autographed plaque signed by the [1992] Dream Team.’ He says, ‘Oh, I can get you a lot of money for that stuff.’ ”

“A lot of money” as in as much as $400,000 for his MVP trophy alone.

Barkley’s ties to his hometown run deep. In 2015, he revealed to the Undefeated that he was the first black baby born in one of Leeds’ segregated, all-white hospitals before eventually becoming one of the first black students to integrate his elementary school. So even though he’s since grown up to become an NBA legend and moved to Arizona, he witnessed first hand how ugly things are in his old stomping grounds.

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“I want to do something really nice for Leeds,” he said. “And if I could build 10 to 20 affordable houses—I want to do green housing, too. If I could sell all that stuff, it would just be a really cool thing for me.”

Barkley isn’t without his faults, but in this instance, the man who once defiantly proclaimed that he’s “not a role model” is definitely providing others with an example to follow.

Menace to supremacy. Founder of Extraordinary Ideas and co-host and producer of The Extraordinary Negroes podcast. Impatiently waiting for ya'll to stop putting sugar in grits.

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DISCUSSION

It’s nice when people can afford to be generous. As a society, we can’t rely on the “noblesse oblige” of wealthy individuals to fix our social safety net. No one should be hungry or homeless in the richest nation in the history of the world.