Donald Sterling's Wife Rochelle Accused of Racist Statements
Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling has been banned for life from attending Los Angeles Clipper Games, fined $2 million and will have to sell his team if NBA commissioner Adam Silver gets his way.
Sterling's estranged wife Rochelle has tried to distance herself from her husband and the firestorm.
"Our family is devastated by the racist comments made by my estranged husband," Rochelle told TMZ on Sunday. "My children and I do not share these despicable views or prejudices. We will not let one man's small-mindedness poison the spirit of the fans and accomplishments of the team in the city we love."
Rochelle also told ESPN, "I do not condone those statements that you heard. I do not believe in them. I am not a racist. I never have been, never will be. The team is the most important thing to my family.”
However, The Los Angeles Times reports that in 2009, Darrell Rhodes, a tenant in one of the Sterling's apartment buildings, stated in a deposition: “I asked [Rochelle] again, I asked her, ‘Would you reduce the rent?’ And she said, ‘Who do you think you are, you black m***** f*****.’"
Rhodes had filed a lawsuit against the Sterlings in 2007, accusing them of discrimination. A $2.7 million settlement was reached in 2009 between the Sterlings, the U.S. Justice Department, and other Sterling apartment tenants.
In a separate deposition in 2009, an on-site apartment manager, Maira Oliva, who worked at one of the Sterlings' buildings stated, "[Rochelle] said, ‘Oh, my God. This is so filthy. I can’t remodel my apartments the way that I want because Latinos are so filthy.'"
In another court case deposition, in 2004, former property supervisor Sumner Davenport claimed Rochelle did not like “certain ethnic groups” in apartments. Davenport also claimed that Rochelle would pose as a government official to enter tenants’ apartments. In that case, the Housing Rights Center made a confidential settlement with the Sterlings.
On Tuesday, the coach and members of the Los Angeles Clippers voiced support for Rochelle.
"It's a tough one for Shelly, really," Clippers coach Doc Rivers told ESPN. "She didn't do anything wrong. You have compassion for her. I kept hearing about the girlfriend, and Shelly's the wife. You know what I mean? I talked to her today, and she's been through as much as anyone as well. She asked if she could come, which I thought was a very nice gesture, and she just wanted the players to know that she loved them and she told me to tell them. I thought why not?"
Clippers player Chris Paul added, "Coach talked about it in our locker room how I'm sure it's been tough on her also. She came to our game to support us in Golden State, and for us it's tough, but I can't imagine how tough it is for that family so we'll let them get through that. I think the biggest thing for us is getting back to basketball and doing what we love."
Sources: ESPN, The Los Angeles Times, TMZ