My dad and Charles Barkley
December 15, 2018 4:47 AM   Subscribe

When Charles Barkley's mother, Charcey Glenn, passed away in June 2015, Barkley's hometown of Leeds, Alabama, came to the funeral to pay respects. But there was also an unexpected guest. Barkley’s friends couldn’t quite place him. He wasn’t a basketball player, he wasn’t a sports figure and he wasn’t from Barkley’s hometown. Here’s what I can tell you about him: he wore striped, red polo shirts tucked into khaki shorts and got really excited about two-for-one deals. He was a commuter. He worked as a cat litter scientist in Muscatine, Iowa. In short, he was everyone’s suburban dad. More specifically, he was my dad. "You know, it was obviously a very difficult time," Barkley told me recently. "And the next thing I know, he shows up. Everybody’s, like, 'Who’s the Asian dude over there?' I just started laughing. I said, 'That’s my boy, Lin.' They’re, like, 'How do you know him?' I said, 'It’s a long story.'"
posted by ChuraChura (42 comments total) 166 users marked this as a favorite
I was just coming here to post this. It's such a nice story.
posted by saladin at 5:00 AM on December 15, 2018 [2 favorites]

Great story. Thanks for sharing.
posted by shoesietart at 5:06 AM on December 15, 2018

Best of The Web.

Thanks Chura Chura.
posted by armoir from antproof case at 5:10 AM on December 15, 2018 [2 favorites]

I just heard this on the radio and thought it was really moving; all the more so because my own mother recently died. Glad to see it show up here.
posted by TedW at 5:17 AM on December 15, 2018 [1 favorite]

Excellent use of the mightmakeyoucry tag.

(I, too, had just come in to post this)
posted by drlith at 5:19 AM on December 15, 2018 [4 favorites]

An emotional slam dunk.
posted by chavenet at 5:51 AM on December 15, 2018 [2 favorites]

Great story. Thanks for posting it.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 5:56 AM on December 15, 2018

hello 911 i was made to have emotions
posted by poffin boffin at 5:58 AM on December 15, 2018 [38 favorites]

That’s wonderful. Thanks ChuraChura.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 5:58 AM on December 15, 2018

I'm crying.
posted by tommasz at 6:01 AM on December 15, 2018 [3 favorites]

I work with Barkley, not on the show mentioned in the article, but another show he's on part-time for a few months a year. None of this is very surprising to me....he is a funny, generous, genuinely awesome guy.

What this has actually done is to change my image of some of the nearly endless parade of people that want to be on set, and for that I thank you for posting this article. I might see him later on and I'll definitely mention it.
posted by nevercalm at 6:06 AM on December 15, 2018 [53 favorites]

Wow—thanks for sharing this. What a nice way to start my day!
In times like these when everything just seems mean and sad, it’s so great to read about genuine kindness and friendship.
posted by bookmammal at 6:23 AM on December 15, 2018 [1 favorite]

During the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, my dad got a pass to sit in his company's luxury suite. When he got there, there was only one other person. It was Jim Belushi. My dad, minding his own business, sat on the other end of the room. After a little while, Belushi called out "Hey, uh, I've got a bunch of beer and snacks over here. Why don't we watch together?" So they did. The idea had been that my dad would stick his head in and see a couple of events then head home. But when he and Belushi hung out, they discovered they had a lot in common: went to junior high around the same time in the same corner of the Northwest Chicago suburbs, several kids around the same age. I imagine their jovial but slightly brittle personalities clicked a bit, too. They hung out for six or so hours. They hugged and exchanged numbers as they left. Belushi insisted my dad come back the next night to hang out again. I didn't even know about this until years later. I made some dismissive remark about Belushi and that sitcom he was on. My dad said matter-of-factly, "Jim is a fine man." It turned out my dad felt self-conscious about actually giving a star a call, so he never did and he didn't go back the next night. "And anyway," my dad said. "Your brother had scouts that night."

It's easy to read this story and come out thinking, "Wow, Charles Barkley is a really great guy." And that seems to be the case. But Lin Wang must have been pretty special, too. Even if a celebrity does take to you as a friend, it takes a certain kind of charm and confidence to meet them halfway, not as a hanger-on or a fan, but just someone able to return the friendship.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 6:29 AM on December 15, 2018 [85 favorites]

"I think it was more that he was proud," Barkley said. "Because I’ve got a daughter, too. I’m just really, really proud of her, because I think she’s a good person. And your dad was so proud of you and your brother."

posted by redsparkler at 6:56 AM on December 15, 2018 [19 favorites]

Two very lucky guys.
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:59 AM on December 15, 2018 [1 favorite]

That was absolutely the sweetest thing I’ve read in a long time.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 7:28 AM on December 15, 2018

It's not often I read a story where everyone involved comes out looking good. This was great.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:43 AM on December 15, 2018 [8 favorites]

I cried.
posted by k8t at 7:56 AM on December 15, 2018 [4 favorites]

I am having a very good morning and this just made it 1000x better. This is the absolute best.
posted by minsies at 8:00 AM on December 15, 2018 [2 favorites]

Charles Barkley just Chaos Dunked on my heart
posted by jason_steakums at 8:06 AM on December 15, 2018 [23 favorites]

Who says he’s not a role model?
posted by infinitewindow at 8:20 AM on December 15, 2018 [16 favorites]

Two very lucky guys.
Definitely in some ways. But the author of this piece doesn't say that her father was 52 when he died, and his kids had, respectively, just graduated from college and from high school. He was lucky in some ways and really unlucky in others. And part of this, I think, is Barkley doing a kindness to a young person who lost her dad way too young.

I dug into the Shirley Wang's clips and found this piece about the Chinese community in Iowa City, and especially about what the Chinese Church has meant to members of that community, including ones like Wang and her parents, who aren't particularly attached to Christianity. She's a really good writer. The Charles Barkley thing seems to be going completely viral, and I hope she gets a lot of opportunities out of it.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 8:30 AM on December 15, 2018 [34 favorites]

Is it just me, or is it dusty in here?

posted by evilDoug at 8:30 AM on December 15, 2018

The last couple of weeks have been tough--nothing very serious, but an incredibly stressful time at work, and I'm sick with (hopefully just a) cold on top of it, and between this post and the failed service dog post last night, things are looking up. This is just the sweetest thing, and really underscores the beauty of our common experiences as humans. Thanks ChuraChura (and saladin).
posted by Special Agent Dale Cooper at 9:28 AM on December 15, 2018 [2 favorites]

Like a good millennial, I Googled Charles Barkley.

Going to shove my funeral boat into the ocean and set it on fire.
posted by Going To Maine at 10:08 AM on December 15, 2018 [36 favorites]

I listened to the audio and it was even better.
posted by k8t at 10:39 AM on December 15, 2018 [4 favorites]

Charles Barkley just Chaos Dunked on my heart

Charles Barkley's Shut Up and Cry Gaiden
posted by J.K. Seazer at 10:50 AM on December 15, 2018 [7 favorites]

Well, damn, I'm crying too.
posted by bq at 12:22 PM on December 15, 2018 [1 favorite]

He worked as a cat litter scientist in Muscatine, Iowa.

1. Of course there are cat litter scientists. I've just never thought about it before. And I'm picky about cat litter.

2. What was a cat litter scientist doing on a business trip in Sacramento?

3. I am glad that Charles Barkley, despite his occasional dubious political commentary (although this was gold: “I was a Republican until they lost their damn minds.”), is a kind-hearted, good person.
posted by elsietheeel at 12:44 PM on December 15, 2018 [7 favorites]

Charles Barkley's eulogy at Lin Wang's funeral

Oh jeez I'd just stopped crying too.
posted by Joey Michaels at 1:27 PM on December 15, 2018 [1 favorite]

You gotta love that Round Mound of Rebound.
posted by 4ster at 2:00 PM on December 15, 2018 [5 favorites]

One more thing: when I was young, through a number of coincidences related to his work, my father became close friends with Jim "Catfish" Hunter, the former pitcher for the A's and Yankees. His family became close to my family, and I got to know his wife and children. Jimmy and his wife Helen came to my wedding, which was a long drive for them.

When Jimmy died in 1999 of ALS, my father was one of his pallbearers. I can remember at the reception afterwards meeting so many former ballplayers who had been my heroes when I was growing up, and to a person, they were all so genuinely kind and human, just good decent people. When I told one that he was my childhood hero, he actually apologized for not pitching better.

My family is in mourning because Jimmy's daughter Kim died unexpectedly this week, but I am so glad that we got to know each other, if for no other reason than my family can somehow help theirs in the days to come.

I have to admit that I have, from time to time in my adult years, criticized athletics and make "sportsball" jokes, but honestly, there are so many great stories that come out of these games and the people who play them. It just warms my heart to learn that Charles Barkley is who I hoped he was.
posted by 4ster at 2:10 PM on December 15, 2018 [21 favorites]

I remember seeing a post-game interview with Charles late in his career with the Houston Rockets. The interviewer made some sort of remark about motivation and how he was only getting $2 million that year. As soon as he was able to talk, Charles said, “First off, 2 million is a lot of money.”

That’s when Charles became my favorite basketball player.
posted by Big Al 8000 at 2:29 PM on December 15, 2018 [25 favorites]

Coincidence throws us up against each other in strange, unpredictable ways and friendship has its own weird alchemy that can work wonderful things if chance allows. It comes as no great surprise that the great and the good are just normal people (what else would they be?), but they don’t all act like it; it’s good to hear about one who does.
posted by Quinbus Flestrin at 5:39 PM on December 15, 2018 [2 favorites]

I found the article through the #longreads hashtag on twitter and it is great and then to come here to Metafilter and see that I'm not alone in having loved this makes me feel less alone in this day and age.
posted by seth9341 at 6:03 PM on December 15, 2018 [3 favorites]

For many years, he was the No. 2 guy, right after Michael Jordan.

Man, Pippen gets no respect.
posted by Literaryhero at 6:48 PM on December 15, 2018 [2 favorites]

This was lovely.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 9:49 PM on December 15, 2018

I feel like someone like this is going to end up at my parents' funerals when their time comes (hopefully not anytime soon, but y'know). My mum in particular has a tendency to just adopt people -she's made friends with people she randomly runs into on holiday trips halfway across the globe, or even one of the staff members at my college dorm when she came over to help me out after a mental breakdown. My dad's former work has connected him to some notable people - I don't know if he's still in touch with any of them post retirement but it's possible. And I have a cousin who's a fast-food mogul.

They don't tend to show off their well-connected friends super publicly. They'll tell ME about it sometimes if it's someone I'm meeting or if it's relevant to the conversation, and occasionally there's a "wait what how the hell do you know this person" moment. But to my family, they're just Friend So & So.

Being Bangladeshi also means that everyone vaguely connected to you is family and that people who you haven't seen in ages will come to your children's wedding (I'm the last unmarried adult cousin so I suspect mine, if it ever happens, will draw out EVERYONE - assuming they're not turned off by my future spouse most likely being female). I don't know what the deal is with funerals, having not attended one in my family yet. But maybe they'll show up, or reach out somehow, figure out who I am. And more than likely, one of them will be that kind of celeb figure, and people will wonder "how in the world", and this person will just say "your parents were my friends".

(Then again, one of my current best friends used to be a regional celebrity, so I suspect HER presence will be the one that turns heads)
posted by divabat at 9:51 PM on December 15, 2018 [3 favorites]

Some dust in my eyes.
posted by the cydonian at 10:56 PM on December 15, 2018

This was beautiful.
posted by From Bklyn at 2:13 AM on December 16, 2018

When I read this Saturday, I had just come home from the memorial service for the mother of one of my closest friends. Yesterday, my friend had posted this on her FB. It was very cathartic for her (her mom passed two weeks ago). I happen to believe that the universe gives us little things when we need them, but to give the universe credit for this would be an injustice to her mom, who was a great force of nature, a minister, and a big supporter of public radio.
posted by Ruki at 6:15 AM on December 17, 2018

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