The Truth Was Way Worse

SAM MALLER/THE PLAYERS' TRIBUNE

People got jokes.

Everyone, it seems like.

Jokes for days.

When the topic is Eddy Curry, the jokes just come easy. It’s been that way for more than a decade. And even after all these years that I’ve been out of the league, when my name comes up online or on social media or whatever, somehow a bunch of people … still got jokes.

It’s like … Eddy Curry?

Do you remember how fat that guy was? OMG OMG LOLOLOL.

Or

How do you play in the NBA and get your house foreclosed on, bro? Like, wow. Come on, son. Hahaha.

Or

I heard that dude actually tried to have sex with the guy who was his personal driver. LOLOLOL. WTF, bro? Dude had issues.

And then basically everyone just LOLs together online and has a good time at my expense.

Hahahaha. LOL, bro. HAHAHA. Fat-ass, broke-ass Eddy Curry. HAHAHAHAHAHA. What a joke!

When the topic is Eddy Curry, the jokes just come easy. It’s been that way for more than a decade.

I’m 37 now, a grown-ass man. So I can take it. People can say whatever they want. I’ll live.

But at the same time … you know what? People really do need to know something.

People need to realize that….

Not everything is a joke, bro.

The crying-laughing emoji doesn’t apply to literally everything in the universe. Not everything is hilarious.

I mean, you know what isn’t funny? Here you go … here’s something that isn’t funny.

January 24, 2009. I’m with the Knicks. On the road in Philly, middle of the game. I’m sitting on the bench in street clothes when I feel a tap on my shoulder.

“Yo, Eddy! They need you in the back. You gotta go to the trainer’s room.”

I figure it’s something to do with why I wasn’t playing, but when I get back there one of my friends with the Knicks comes up to me legit crying — like his eyes are all red and there are tears on his face. I have no idea what’s up. He just tells me to call my assistant but won’t say anything more.

So I grab my phone and dial.

When my guy picks up, I ask what’s going on, and there’s about a one- or two-second pause. Then it’s….

“Bro, Nova is dead, bro. They killed her.”

You hear words like that and … I’m telling you … it’s the furthest thing from funny.

“I’m here on the scene now. There’s blood everywhere, bro. I think the baby may be dead, too.”

That shit right there, yeah … that shit is not funny.

Sam Maller/The Players' Tribune

A lot of people don’t know about Nova.

I saw her on and off for a few years while I was with the Knicks. We had two kids together.

On the day Nova was murdered — shot down in cold blood back home in Chicago — one of the many people who didn’t know about her was my wife, Patrice.

Patrice also didn’t know about the children I’d had with Nova — my 10-month-old daughter, Ava, and her three-year-old brother, Noah.

I kept it a secret. All of it. For years.

So as I’m on the phone learning that my infant daughter and her mother had just been murdered … I’m also coming to grips with the fact that my marriage of nearly four years would almost certainly be over.

There would be no more covering anything up.

All I really felt like I could do at that point was cry.

I just stood there bawling my eyes out about … everything.

I kept it a secret. All of it. For years.

Then, in about 10 or 15 seconds, stuff started happening a mile a minute — phone ringing off the hook, information overload, funeral plans, and on and on.

Before I knew it, I was on a plane flying back to New York, and even just within those few hours more and more details became clear. I found out that my son Noah was right there when his mother and sister were shot. But he was so little that he didn’t really understand what had happened. He’d tried to wake up his mom after the shooting, so when the officers went in and found him there, he had blood all over him. He actually laid down next to her and had fallen asleep.

Noah hadn’t been able to wake up his mom or his sister, and probably thought they were sleeping, so he went to sleep, too.

When I asked if the police knew who did it, I learned that they thought it was Nova’s lawyer. He had been overseeing the child support payments, and she’d been dating him. In the past she’d warned me that he was dangerous. Dude actually brought a gun to her baby shower for Ava because he thought I might be there.

I didn’t pay that stuff no mind, though. It was like: I’m in the league. People know my name. No one is running up on me and shooting me.

And now I’m hearing that this guy had just murdered Nova and our daughter. They’re gone. Never coming back. Like … gone gone.

Forever.

Living, breathing human beings just … gone.

And my little boy saw it go down. He’s three years old and he sees his family get gunned down. He’s got their blood all over himself.

So yeah, man….

Just totally, totally … not funny.

Actually, you know what? Strike that. I shouldn’t say that.

Because dudes online will probably find some way to make jokes about all that, too.

People, man … they got jokes.

One of the things you always hear people say about guys like me is….

No one told you that you had to be famous.

People say that all the time. It’s like….

You wanted this.

I didn’t make you do this. You’re the one who decided to play in the league. You knew what the NBA was all about.

This is what you chose.

And when someone says that stuff, just on the face of it, generally, I’m not gonna lie: It makes sense. It seems like a reasonable thing to think.

But at the same time, let me just say … hear me out for a few more minutes here because….

Maybe it’s not always that simple.

Courtesy of Eddy Curry (2)

Thinking back on it now, I honestly didn’t even want to play basketball as a kid.

You know how you sometimes hear about a guy who had a mini basketball in his crib as a kid, or guys who were dunking on those little plastic hoops as soon as they could walk — guys who you just knew what they were gonna be? Well … that wasn’t me.

Basketball wasn’t my lifelong dream.

When I was a kid, I just wanted to play video games and ride bikes and hang out with my friends. I actually tried to avoid hoops.

What did me in, though, was that I was tall. When middle school rolled around, my friends started talking constantly about how I should play basketball. Every day they’d pressure me to try out for the seventh-grade team. And, for a while there, I actually managed to resist.

But I was taller than the teachers at that point — 6′ 5″, 6′ 6″ maybe.

What could I do?

People would look at me and they just weren’t trying to take no for an answer. “Oh no,” they’d say, “you’re playing hoops, man. There’s no way someone as big as you is not playing. You are going to play basketball.”

So, you know … I played basketball.

Dirksen Middle School. Calumet City, Illinois. The Senators.

When I went to the tryout, I didn’t even know how to play the game. I was terrible. I had no clue what I was doing out there. I was so bad that when I made the team I didn’t tell anyone in my family. I didn’t want them to see how awful I was. I mean, I was probably the worst middle school basketball player in the history of the world.

But goddamn was I tall.

Manny Millan/SI/Getty Images

So, before you know it, word gets out about the huge kid playing at Dirksen, and I have AAU dudes showing up at my house to recruit me and meet my parents. And me, I’m just … totally not into it.

The first one of those visits, I’ll never forget it, while the coaches are there making a pitch to my mom, I’m sitting on the floor….

Playing with a toy train set.

For real, bro. I’m literally on the floor putting a train set together while these guys are talking about how great a player I could be if I joined their travel team and really concentrated fully on basketball.

The whole time, I’m fiddling with those train tracks just kind of thinking to myself, That sounds like a terrible idea. I’m not signing up for no AAU team. That seems like a damn job.

It was like….

How about you just let me play with my trains and leave me be?

While the coaches are there making a pitch to my mom, I’m sitting on the floor…. Playing with a toy train set.

My mom, though … she wasn’t having it.

She made me go over to the gym and join that team.

And, to be fair, I ended up enjoying it. Everything kind of just snowballed from there. I ended up falling in love with basketball.

Eventually.

But it definitely wasn’t love at first sight.

When that Knicks team plane landed from Philly and I walked into our house, Patrice was just like….

I honestly don’t even know how to describe it exactly.

She was basically exactly like what you’d think a good woman would be like when she’s just found out that her husband has been lying to her for years. And, I mean, I don’t blame her — I had been a terrible husband for a long time by that point.

We were living in Westchester, New York, at the time, in the Ritz-Carlton apartments, where my boy Q, Quentin Richardson, also had a few places. So after Patrice made it clear that I was not welcome that night, Q told me I could use his apartment downstairs on the fifth floor.

I remember I walked in and basically went numb.

I was there, but at the same time, I was … barely there. It was no lights, no TV, no cooking meals … nothing. Just sitting completely still. Not knowing what to do or how to move forward — just me sitting there in the dark, shades drawn.

Day and night.

The only thing I really remember doing over those next few days was signing off to release Ava’s body to the funeral home so they could prepare her for the service and burial. Beyond that, it was just….

Darkness.

I blamed myself.

I still do.

As a father — as a man — you’re responsible for the children you bring into this world, no matter what the situation is. You need to be accountable and look out for those little ones. I needed to do that. I needed to protect my daughter.

And I didn’t.

In so many ways.

I failed her.

And the what-ifs still haunt me to this day.

It’s like: What if I had just been honest and not tried to keep Ava and Noah a secret? What if I would’ve had them as part of my life back then? Maybe then Nova never even hires that attorney. Or maybe the children would have been with me and not in harm’s way.

Sitting there in Q’s apartment, in the pitch black, I basically just cycled through hundreds and hundreds of what-ifs. And that just had me more and more depressed.

Ultimately, as strange as this is to say, I got to a place where I realized it wasn’t like I could just end my life and forget about everything. I had to figure out how to keep on living somehow. It was like: I have other children. I have to look out for them and make sure nothing like this ever happens again to anyone I love.

The other thing I realized, though, beyond a shadow of a doubt, was this: Money most definitely cannot solve your problems.

Money isn’t going to bring people back or make people forget about what you’ve done.

Sometimes all money can do is pay for a nicer funeral.

By the time I buried my daughter, nearly every part of my life was already crashing down around me — I was stuck at the very end of the bench in New York, my bank account was dwindling, my home in Chicago was about to be foreclosed on by the bank, my oldest friends were lying to me and stealing my money.

And, somehow, things just kept going downhill from there.

Just a few months after the funeral, in the summer of 2009, I had to sue my agent because he was taking loans in my name and spending tons of my money without telling me.

At one point he actually went out and had a rubber stamp made with my signature on it, so he could just buy whatever he wanted — TVs, Escalades, trips, you name it. He even used that stamp to borrow $500,000 from this dude who had a company that charged an 85% interest rate. Didn’t tell me. Didn’t fill me in later. Just stamped the paper.

I found out when I got sued several months later, after the interest had taken the loan up over $2 million.

Two. Million. Dollars.

I actually ended up having to pay some guy I didn’t even know more than $2 million.

Because someone I thought I could trust stamped my name on a sheet of paper.

It definitely sucked to have people straight-up stealing my money like that dude did, but to be honest with you the biggest financial issue back then stemmed from my own personality.

If someone had a sad story for me, I couldn’t say no.

If you were about to get evicted, or your mom needed money for an operation, and we’d been boys since the second grade or whatever … I was your man.

I couldn’t have somebody over at my house — be riding around in a $500,000 car, eating the best food imaginable — and then have them say, like, “Bro, I’m about to lose my family’s house,” and do nothing. I couldn’t just be like, “Damn, that’s too bad.” I literally wasn’t able to just listen and not do anything.

I was paying off people’s momma’s mortgages. Covering cellphone bills. Making car payments. I couldn’t say no.

People would come to me with the saddest stories imaginable. And a lot of times, at first, the ask would be pretty small. I’d look at it like, “Damn, he only needs $1,500. You know what? Hey, bro, I got you, man. What you need? I got you.” But then there was always another chapter. Like: “Nah, $1,500 would be cool, but if you had $3,000, that would be better.”

And I’d always go for the bump-up.

I’d always say to myself, “It’s all good … what’s $3,000?”

But when you’re doing that for like 15 different people, it adds up. And I understand now that a lot of times people were telling me stories just to take advantage of me. Lots of times it was just lies. People I’d known my whole life, people I loved, would just straight-up lie and pull some of the foulest shit imaginable to try and rip me off.

I was paying off people’s momma’s mortgages. Covering cellphone bills. Making car payments. I couldn’t say no.

I’ll never forget this one time when I had to send off some life insurance papers to my accountant and asked a friend to drop the envelope in the mail for me.

This guy’s been my friend forever. We go way back. So what’s he do?

He opens up the envelope and adds his name to the forms so that if I die 10% of my assets would go to him.

Like, that’s something that someone really did. In real life.

A friend!

My accountant called me, like, “Are you sure you want to give him 10%?” and I had no idea what he was talking about.

I remember I immediately got this person on the phone, and he’s basically like, “Oh, that … yeah. My bad. You’re right. I shouldn’t have done that. I just wanted to make sure I’d have some money down the line.”

Like, you know … it wasn’t nothing really. Like….

“Oops, my bad.”

I was pretty much oblivious while a lot of that stuff was going on. But the crazy thing is, Patrice….

Patrice — she was on top of it. She saw it coming.

Everything.

Clear as day. Before it even happened.

The dudes who didn’t seem shady but actually were, the splurge purchases that should’ve never happened, the scammers, the friends who I thought would never do me dirty, but then did … all of it.

My wife … it’s like she could see into the future or something. She saw everything pretty much playing out the way that it did. She always tried to warn me, too. So when I hired this ex-con to be my driver because he was cool to hang out with and liked playing video games, she told me it was a bad idea.

“Come on, stop being so suspicious all the time!” I remember telling her. “It’s fine!”

Sam Maller/The Players' Tribune

Even my accountant tried to step in that time. He had an undercover officer pull the guy’s record and called me up: “Eddy, this dude went to jail for burglary. I don’t feel like this is a good idea.”

I just wasn’t hearing it, though. I was like: “He’s cool. He has a young son. He’s turned his life around. We’re friends. I want to help him support his family. It’s fiiiiiine.

And for a while, it actually was fine.

Then, after a few years of driving for me, that guy got an opportunity to go work for a car service that paid really well and didn’t require travel back and forth to Chicago. So I wrote him a glowing letter of recommendation, and he got the job. But when they found out about his background, the company fired him. And when I didn’t hire him back, he started calling me constantly and threatening to make up a bunch of stuff about me and go to the press. When I stopped answering his calls, he started calling friends of mine. When they stopped answering … I guess he just felt like he needed to level up.

So one night we’re playing the Mavs in Dallas and after the game a reporter comes up talking about, “What do you have to say about the sexual harassment lawsuit and the claim that you are gay and tried to force your driver to have sex with you.”

It’s like: Whaaaaaaaaaaat?

Sam Maller/The Players' Tribune

Turns out this dude took these instances when we were clowning around and talking smack to each other and put my words straight into some legal filings. It was like, “On such and such day, Mr. Curry told plaintiff to kiss his ass,” or “On this day, Mr. Curry stated that he was going to kick plaintiff in the penis and told plaintiff to perform oral sex on him.”

The court dismissed the lawsuit and sent us to arbitration … where I still ended up having to pay that man thousands of dollars.

At the end of the process, before the settlement was finalized, the arbitrator left the room and told the two of us to talk one last time. So it’s just me and this driver in an attorney’s office, and he’s in there crying his eyes out. I remember him telling me, like, “I’m so sorry, bro. I never meant to do this to you.” He talked about how his wife had left him and had taken his child with her. “I’m just in a bad place. I just really need some money. I’m so sorry.”

It was unreal. I just sat there in silence because I couldn’t believe this was really happening.

At one point I turn to him and am like, “So what are you saying? Are you saying that I don’t have to give you this money?”

He wipes his eyes and takes a second, and then, all quiet, he’s like: “Oh, no bro. I still need that money….

“Sorry, bro.”

Now, when you Google my name, you get links to articles with titles like “Top 10 Athletes Who Are Rumored To Be Gay” and “Which Athletes Have the Gay Rumor Mill Buzzing.”

Hahahah fat-ass, broke-ass, GAY-ASS Eddy Curry. LOLOLOL.

People will always have jokes.

That’s just how it goes. Especially when you don’t end up being what everyone thought you would be.

Looking back on everything now, I really do feel like, for the longest time, I was just in way over my head when I was in the NBA. I was a boy who went from playing with his train set to having millions of dollars, in the blink of an eye.

And I just wasn’t ready for it.

I know full-well it’s more complicated than that. But, like … maybe not by a lot.

When I first got drafted, I didn’t hit up any clubs. I was too young to get in. Back then, I was just psyched that I could head over to Great America with all my friends and ride some roller coasters. I was all about being able to snag the newest video games to play Xbox with my buddies from back home.

I had no idea how to manage money or protect myself from scammers or build a loving, monogamous relationship or….

How to be a good man — a good, solid, reliable, trustworthy man.

I wish I had known. And maybe you could even say that I should have known. But I honestly just didn’t.

And so … things went sideways on me in a hurry.

That’s how life is sometimes, I guess.

Some people are able to just keep ascending, and everything they do, it just keeps getting better, and better, and better, and better. But for some people, it just, I don’t know … it just doesn’t happen like that.

Sometimes it goes from bad, to good, to worse, to better, to good, to bad and then … it’s all about where you end up in the end.

Sam Maller/The Players' Tribune

With me, when I was going through my most painful shit — the most difficult times in my entire life, stuff that was just unimaginably rough for me — people have always been right there, ready to step up to make fun of it.

It used to really bug me.

But now … you know what? Now, in some ways, I almost view it as a blessing. Seeing that nastiness take place, again and again, has enabled me to realize that maybe even just having one person who isn’t looking to tear you down and laugh at your failures and make you feel less than human … maybe that can actually be enough to get you through.

And for me that person, without a doubt, is my wife, Patrice.

If there’s a hero character in the crazy story of my life, that hero is most definitely Patrice.

When I was going through my most painful shit — the most difficult times in my entire life, stuff that was just unimaginably rough for me — people have always been right there, ready to step up to make fun of it.

In the 15 years we’ve been married, she’s been through what amounts to about 15 lifetimes’ worth of drama — infidelity, unspeakable tragedy, multiple lawsuits, home foreclosures, several dozen financial scams, and on and on.

She could’ve left me thousands of times. And I really couldn’t have faulted her.

But you know what? She’s still right here. She never turned her back on me.

Patrice actually ended up coming back to Chicago with me when I went to the funeral home to pay my respects to the woman I was cheating on her with and the little girl she didn’t know her husband had fathered. I can’t even imagine how hard that must have been.

And right now, as I write this thing out, she’s in the other room helping our kids with their homework.

She is the best person I’ve ever known.

Patrice is an incredible mom to all seven of our children, and that definitely includes Noah.

He’s 14 now, and even though he is not her son by blood, and he arrived in her life in what was probably the most difficult way imaginable, she loves that boy with all her heart.

You cannot tell Patrice that Noah is not her son. She would sacrifice everything for him without thinking twice. It’s not even a question.

And he knows it. He feels that love.

He calls her Mom.

Not because we told him to, or because we made him. He does that because he wants to — because he loves her just as much as she loves him.

Everything about their relationship is inspiring beyond belief to me.

And, on my end, after so many years of screwing up and showing poor judgment over and over again, I can finally say in all honesty that things really are different. I finally got to a point where I felt like, Man, I’m just tired of hurting Patrice.

It took me way too long to get there. I’ll be the first one to admit that, but I’m definitely at that place now where it’s like….

She’s too precious to me.

I need to do right by this woman who has done nothing but right by me and everyone I love from the moment we met.

Ultimately, I realized that I needed to be a better person. I needed to be a better husband for sure, and a strong role model for my children from here on out. I can speak from experience in terms of being someone who had been purely selfish in the past and did things that caused hurt and pain in women’s lives.

I don’t want to be that person anymore.

That’s not what I want my kids to see.

And even though I sometimes still make mistakes and say the wrong things to them, or mess up when I’m trying to get some life lesson across, I can tell you for a fact that being a dad is the best job I’ve ever had.

Sam Maller/The Players' Tribune

I could be having the worst day ever — just feeling bad or angry or sorry for myself — and then one of them will come up to me and, out of nowhere, say something to me that is just so thoughtful or kind or caring that it basically lights me up from the inside.

In those moments, all is right in the world.

And on those days when I for some reason get sucked into the comments section online and end up seeing some of the stuff people still say about me all these years later, all I have to do is look across the room at my children, or at Patrice, and I instantly realize the difference between what’s not important….

And what is.

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