The NBA is continuing to investigate alleged racist remarks by Clippers team owner Donald Sterling. Who is Sterling? KPCC put together an FAQ that reveals the controversial billionaire's roots in Los Angeles, as well as his previous brushes with controversy.
What's his past?
- Born: Donald Tokowitz in Chicago, Illinois, in 1934
- Only son of immigrant produce peddler (Sports Illustrated)
- Left Chicago for Boyle Heights, then a poor Jewish enclave in East L.A. (SI)
- School: Graduated Cal State Los Angeles and Southwestern University School of Law (SI)
- Changed his last name to Sterling in his 20s because it “instilled confidence in people.” (Author Dave Zirin, KPCC interview)
- Practiced law in Boyle Heights, then Beverly Hills (SI)
- Real estate mogul who owns multiple apartment buildings in L.A. and Sterling Plaza
- Bought Clippers in 1981 for $12.7 million (ESPN)
- Net worth: $1.9 Billion and ranks No. 328 in United States, as of 2013. (Forbes)
What about those previous lawsuits?
- 2012: A Los Angeles jury ordered Sterling to pay $17.3 million in a lawsuit filed by an actress, Robyn Cohen, who lost most of her belongings in a fire at a West Hollywood apartment building Sterling owns. (Forbes)
- 2009: Sued by former Clippers general manager Elgin Baylor in L.A. Superior Court for wrongful termination and discrimination on the basis of age and race. Baylor later dropped the race accusation; jury ruled in Sterling's favor in 2011. (LAT)
- 2009: Paid a record $2.73 million to settle allegations by the government that he refused to rent apartments to Hispanics, blacks and families with children in L.A. (ESPN)
- 2005: Paid an undisclosed sum and nearly $5 million in attorney fees to settle an unrelated 2003 lawsuit that claimed he tried to drive non-Korean tenants out of apartments he bought in Koreatown. (ESPN)
- 2005: Jury decided in Sterling's favor in a suit in which former property manager, Sumner Davenport, claimed Sterling sexually harassed her and that Sterling's companies had racially prejudiced employment and housing practices. (ESPN)
Has he given a lot to charity?
- Southern California charities have routinely named Sterling as their Humanitarian of the Year — at least according to Sterling's self-promotional ads in the L.A. Times (SI)
- In the 2000s, Sterling announced plans to build a $50 million Donald T. Sterling Homeless Center in downtown L.A., which never came to pass. (L.A. Weekly)
- Sterling was slated to receive a lifetime achievement award from the Los Angeles chapter of the NAACP until this past weekend.
- During the 2008-09 season over 550 organizations received in excess of 80,000 tickets for local children and their families through the Donald T. Sterling Charity Seats Program. Sterling has donated over 280,000 tickets to more than 2,000 community groups over the last seven seasons. (NBA)
- Sterling was the driving force in the formation of the Los Angeles Clippers Foundation, which benefits numerous local charities, reports the NBA. During the 2006 off-season, Sterling spearheaded the creation of a series of free, day-long, Clippers summer basketball clinics to involve local youth. (NBA)