The facts were scary enough, and the rumors only made them sound worse. Delonte West drove a three-wheeled motorcycle late at night with three guns, one of them a shotgun that was loaded into a guitar case. Where he was going, the media did not know. But it was illegal to carry concealed weapons and to transport loaded weapons in Maryland, and whatever West was doing, it seemed undoubtedly sinister.
It actually wasn’t, West told SLAM Magazine during a recent interview. While he never should have been driving the guns, his intentions that night were not at all violent. (SLAM Magazine — READ THIS PIECE)
Delonte West is an avid outdoorsman, likes to hunt and fish in the backwoods of Virginia, but that’s not really why he owned the guns. Like many nouveau riche athletes, he had hammers because he could afford them. The same way money buys cars and clothes and comfort, it also buys guns. It’s the American way.
After the ’09 season ended with his Cavaliers getting knocked out by the Orlando Magic in the Conference Finals, West returned home to Maryland and set about finding a good place to store the weapons, which he saw more as collector’s items. He chose the recording studio.
Tucked away in his fully finished basement, West’s studio is his sanctuary. Off limits to children, the sparsely furnished wood paneled room is his home within his home. All of that’s why he thought it was the perfect stash spot. Everything was fine—the guns remained safely hidden—until, on the night of September 17, feeling unusually tired, West went to his bedroom pretty early, took his nightly dose of Seroquel (a drug that treats bipolar disorder) and got in bed. Shortly after falling asleep, he was startled awake by shouting.
“Ma Dukes came running upstairs into my room, cursing me, saying she wanted all these MFers out of my house,” recalls West. “I came to like, What’s going on? I was already on my Seroquel trip. A few of my cats had found some stuff in the studio and they were living the whole gangsta life thing—guns in the air and this and that,” continues West. “And I said, ‘Oh my God. What the fuck are y’all doin’ in here? Y’all got to go. Momma ain’t on that. Kids are running around upstairs. It’s time to go.’”
Gassed up from the commotion, West decided it would be prudent for him to relocate the guns to an empty house he owned nearby. So, with his other vehicles blocked in by guests’ cars, and expecting it to be a short trip, he haphazardly loaded up his Can-Am and placed the weapons in a Velcro-type of bag—“not a desperado, hardcase, gun-shooting-out-the-side type case”—and set off.
“I’m on the Beltway, cruisin’,” West says, voice high, emotional and inimitable. “Soon I start realizing I’m dozing in and out. I open my eyes and I went from this lane to that. I’m swervin’, and by the time I wake up, I’m about three exits past my exit.
“There’s this truck flying beside me—” West pauses; this next part is crucial—“and I’m scared to death. So I seen an officer coming up and I try to flag him down. I pull up next to him. He slows down and I get up in front of him. I tell the officer I’m not functioning well and I’m transporting weapons… The rest of the story is what it is.
“I’m not proud of it,” concludes West, “but it looks way worse than it was.”
West played all last season under home detention, meaning he wore an electronic anklet until four months ago. Four times per day last season, West needed to alert a probation officer of his whereabouts. On the road, West often couldn’t leave his hotel room. Sometimes, home detention kept him from arriving at practice early or staying late. It kept him from joining his team at certain team-bonding activities. And when he broke his wrist against the New Jersey Nets and needed to drive straight to the hospital, West later received a phone call from his probation office.
“If something happens on the way to the hospital, I don’t know where you’re at, so you better call in advance next time,” the officer told West.
West is now free, anklet-less, and, well, just read SLAM’s story. If you’re a Delonte West fan, you’ll really like it.