10 Things You Didn’t Know about Donald Sterling

Ever hear the name Donald Sterling before? He’s a former attorney, businessman, and prominent personality in the professional basketball scene. Here we delve into the not-so-commonly known aspects about Sterling, unraveling a character who strikes quite a balance between controversy and success. So, without further ado, here are 10 things that might surprise you about Donald Sterling.

1. Jewish Descent

Born Donald Tokowitz on April 26, 1934, Sterling is the son of Jewish immigrants. His family hails from the Russian Empire, with his parents having settled in Boyle Heights, a neighborhood in Los Angeles, California. His upbringing was humble, with his father earning a living as a produce dealer.

In adulthood, Sterling shed his original surname, adopting ‘Sterling’ as it resonated more with the affluent lifestyle he sought after. He legally changed his last name when he was 25, a testament to his aspirations of wealth and prosperity.

2. Lawyer Turned Real Estate Mogul

Before his provocative stint in the NBA, Sterling had quite a successful legal and realtor career. He pursued a degree in law at the Southwestern University School of Law and started his practice in 1961 after passing the State Bar of California.

Sterling soon shifted his focus to the real estate sector, where he made his fortune. His empire, Sterling Equities, owns a remarkable inventory of apartment buildings and commercial properties in Los Angeles and beyond.

3. Longest Tenured NBA Owner

Donald Sterling owned the Los Angeles Clippers for an astounding 33 years – the longest reign by an owner in NBA history. He bought the San Diego Clippers in the early 1980s before moving the team to Los Angeles without league approval.

Despite his early years being marked by poor team performance and fan backlash, Sterling’s tenure saw the Clippers become a significant player in the NBA, with fan attention and support rising dramatically.

4. Expensive Lavish Lifestyle

Sterling is famed for an extravagant lifestyle, with luxurious mansions and flashy cars being the norm. Living in a $17.6 million Beverly Hills house, owning Malibu beach property, and possessing high-end luxuries like a Rolls-Royce signifies his penchant for grandiosity.

His infamous parties held at his Malibu beach house showcase the high-profile lifestyle he has always led. Sterling is fabled for entertaining his guests lavishly, mirroring the high-flying businessman’s persona he always exudes.

5. Racism Allegations

Sterling has often found himself in hot water owing to allegations of racial discrimination. Allegations of racism first surfaced when he was sued by tenants and the City of Los Angeles for racial discrimination.

The most notable incident, however, came in 2014 when an audio recording of Sterling making racially insensitive remarks to his then-girlfriend was leaked. The scandal ended his long reign as Clipper’s owner, leading to a $2.5 million fine and a lifetime ban from the NBA.

6. Divorce Scandal

Sterling’s personal life has been drama-filled, with his marriage to Rochelle Stein becoming a major talking point. They married in 1955 with two children but lived apart for many years.

Their marriage became a spectacle when Rochelle Sterling filed for divorce in 2015, just a year after the racism scandal. This divorce filing was later retracted, with the couple choosing to stay married despite their estranged relationship.

7. Philanthropy

Despite his controversial image, Sterling has a philanthropic side. The Donald T. Sterling Charitable Foundation has made significant contributions to various causes like underprivileged children, the homeless, and medical research.

Sterling also made hefty donations to institutions like the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) for kidney research, although these donations were later returned in light of his racism scandal.

8. Contributions to the Jewish Community

A prominent member of the Jewish community, Sterling has made significant contributions to numerous Jewish causes. He has donated to synagogues, Jewish schools, and universities.

In addition, Sterling has made generous donations to organizations like the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a global human rights organization that confronts anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial.

9. Pricey NBA Exit

Sterling’s exit from the NBA was not only contentious but also expensive. He was banned for life and fined $2.5 million, the harshest penalty in NBA history.

After an intense legal battle, his wife Rochelle sold the Clippers to former Microsoft CEO, Steve Ballmer, for $2 billion. This marked the end of Sterling’s controversial tenure with the Clippers.

10. Health Concerns

In 2014, Sterling’s health made headlines when he was reported to have been diagnosed with prostate cancer. Although it was his estranged wife who made the claims, it reminded the public that even wealthy magnates aren’t immune to life’s unpredictability.

Since then, he has been largely out of the public eye, focusing on his health and personal affairs.

Ready to dig deeper into Donald Sterling’s life? Here are some links to explore:

Biography.com
ESPN
LA Times