Shannon Sharpe Plays Therapist as Charles Barkley Recounts How His Deadbeat Dad Flew Across the Country and Cussed Him Out for Flunking Spanish and Unable to Graduate


NBA legend Charles Barkley recently joined host Shannon Sharpe on his “Club Shay Shay” podcast, delving into his upbringing in rural Alabama, his family dynamics, temper, and illustrious career.

The former Philadelphia 76ers forward shared a story he’s often told about his absentee father, whom he had only seen a handful of times during his childhood, seemingly flying across the country to reprimand him for failing Spanish.

During his chat with Shannon Sharpe, Charles Barkley reflected on two peak moments in his youth, both involving leading his school’s basketball teams to the championships.

Charles Barkley Tells Shannon Sharpe Why Deadbeat Dad Flew Across the Country to Cuss Him Out for Flunking Spanish, Leaving Him Crying for Two Hours ( Photo: Desiree Navarro/WireImage ; Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images)Charles Barkley Tells Shannon Sharpe Why Deadbeat Dad Flew Across the Country to Cuss Him Out for Flunking Spanish, Leaving Him Crying for Two Hours ( Photo: Desiree Navarro/WireImage ; Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images)
Charles Barkley (left) recently told Shannon Sharpe about his father chastising him for failing Spanish class. (Photos: Desiree Navarro/WireImage, Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images)

In his senior year of high school, in particular, Barkley had taken his team to the state championships before getting injured. He then fell into a depression, which affected his academic performance.

“Shannon, there was a very a really traumatic experience in my life when I was in high school,” he shared before explaining where his head was as a teen.

“I got behind in all my classes. I caught up in every one of them except Spanish,” said Barkley. “I didn’t graduate I had to go to summer school.”

Unaware of his son’s depression, Charles’ father, Frank Barkley, booked a flight from his home in California down to Alabama.

“My dad, who was living in California my whole childhood, flew in, and he ripped me a new a—hole,” Barkley recalled. “And I’m already traumatized that I’m not going to get to march [in graduation], and when he flew in at that point, I just [I said] I ain’t never going to forgive this dude ever again for yelling at me like that cause I was already down.”

Shannon asked the now-sports analyst how active his father in his life and he was responded that he could count on his hands the amount of times he saw his father face to face.

Barkley said, “Zero…  I don’t think I probably saw him probably 10 times in my childhood.”

According to Barkley, his had father flown in for his own high school reunion when the future NBA MVP’s grades came in that determined that he could not graduate. That was the moment his father decided to be parental.

Barkley said that after watching all of his classmates graduate, he cried for two hours but resolved to never be in that space again.

“I stood next door on the stadium and watched the graduation and cried for like two hours. And that night I said, ‘this is the last time I’m gonna let anybody ever have control of my life,’” Barkley told Sharpe.

After talking about how hardworking his family’s matriarchs were and how they struggled without his father around, he explained that he eventually had to make peace with his absence.

“My dad was not in the picture,” the 11-time All-Star explained early in the two-hour conversation. “Me and my dad, we got along later in life, but in the beginning, I had nothing but animosity and hate toward him because he wasn’t around and he didn’t do anything for us.”

Barkley said it was painful for him to grow up watching his mother, a domestic worker, and grandmother, who worked at a chicken factory, struggling to raise him and his three brothers. Despite their financial struggles and his absent father, Barkley remarked that the family always seemed to have what they needed.

Shannon offered, “The forgiveness that you gave him, that was for you.  Because he was living his life you was carrying around something that was weighing you down.”

The “King Charles” host agreed.

Barkley said part of the reason he was so vicious and angry on the court at the beginning of his professional career was because he was beating down his father and his teacher who flunked him in Spanish, Ms. Gomez.

There was a definitive turning point in Barkley’s life. He said that when he met two-time NBA MVP Moses Malone, the 76ers center stepped in and became a father figure to the young Barkley on their team, filling in in places where he really needed it.



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