“People don’t understand what these guys in the African-American community go through,” longtime agent Aaron Goodwin says. “It’s so hard for them to separate themselves from the people they grew up with. It leads to withdrawal, anxiety. There’s guilt about turning their backs on people they care about but who aren’t good influences in their lives. There’s this pressure of, ‘I have to succeed because so many people are counting on me.’ And then there’s all the people with their hands out because everyone wants money.”
Barkley remembers those days well. As a rookie with the Sixers, he felt compelled to assist his family and his boys from Leeds financially. But as the years went on, accommodating everyone who had a hand out became a burden, a distraction — and a trigger for stress.
“Money ruins all your relationships,” Barkley says. “No matter what you do for your family, it’s never enough. All your friends think because you’re rich, you should bail them out of every situation.
“The only time I had any peace and quiet was on the basketball court.”