Becoming a playground basketball legend in New York City is a rare accomplishment. At Rucker Park, and other basketball hotspots around the five boroughs, some of the best amateur roundball players ply their trade. Kenny Anderson became a playground legend in NYC, he was considered one of the best of the best. He parlayed that talent into a couple of years at Georgia Tech, then moved on to a long NBA career.
But all was not right in Anderson's world. Over the years his life can be gently described as chaotic. Seven children with five different women, two divorces, and a DUI arrest. Through all that, through his entire life since he was just an 8-year-old kid, Anderson had been hiding a secret. Now, he's telling the world about it, and he started with an exclusive to SB Nation.
Kenny Anderson was sexually molested twice as a youth.
In a piece at SB Nation's NBA page, Anderson sat down with Matt Ufford for a video segment in which he discusses that dark period from his past, and why he's telling his story. I encourage everybody to go read the article and watch the video to get a better understanding of the story. I was also interested in why he came to SB Nation to tell it.
It all started when Seth Rosenthal, managing editor at SB Nation Knicks blog Posting & Toasting ran across a site that peaked his curiosity. It was a stage play/discussion session called the Penis Monologue, a show being put on in NYC. Kenny Anderson, along with a few other basketball players, was among the cast. Seth decided to attend the show and wrote about it here. During the show, Anderson briefly referenced the molestation incidents, but didn't offer up much more. Seth met with Anderson after the show, I'll let Seth tell what happened next.
After the show, I approached Kenny (this was a very small venue and everyone milled about in a bar area before and after) and told him how brave he was to make that revelation. I asked him if I'd better not address the molestation stuff in my story, since: 1. that wasn't really what I was there to write about 2. that was the kind of thing best made public on his own terms. Initially, he said no, it was fine for me to write about it (I still figured I wouldn't, because that's such a massive thing to have as an aside, and given how vague and brief he was about it, it would have to be an aside), but on my way out the door, he stopped me and changed his stance, saying yeah, it was better left for the book.
A day or two later, the guy responsible for the show and Kenny's longtime friend, Joe Brown, called me and said even though it was a "soft" opening filled mostly with family and friends, Kenny was worried about the story leaking. They'd already started to get requests from major media presences for an interview on the subject of Kenny's childhood abuse. Joe told me Kenny and he appreciated my going out of my way to ask about that stuff, and that they'd decided to preempt any leaks by doing a formal interview, and that they wanted to do it with SB Nation because Kenny had come to trust us (he'd done an interview with us previously).
That's the story behind the story and how Kenny Anderson came to tell SB Nation about his childhood sexual abuse. It's an important topic, and Anderson's revelations will undoubtedly draw attention to a horrible, ugly part of life. We are proud that he chose SB Nation to help him finally breakthrough the silence and start some healing.
Congrats go out to Seth Rosenthal who was the primary mover in all of this. Seth did the right thing, instead of just trying to make some headlines on his own, he talked to Anderson about the story. Because of his professional and respectful treatment of the situation, Anderson decided to come back to him with the full story. Also congrats to David Roth who wrote the story for SB Nation, and to Matt Ufford and the SB Nation video team for producing the accompanying video.
Also, thanks to Kenny Anderson, and here's hoping he finally finds some peace in his life.