The 700 Club with Pat Robertson


Luther Wright: Hoop Dreams

By Kristi Watts
The 700 Club -  “I pictured the NBA way different from the way it is.  I signed this million-dollar contract and I shouldn’t have to work as hard anymore.”

It was over 20 years ago that Luther Wright led Elizabeth High School to the New Jersey State Championship.

Standing at 7 feet 2 inches tall, Luther or ‘Lou Bee’ as he’s called was the hometown hero who was on the fast track to make it to the NBA. After 3 years with Seton Hall University he was picked up by the Utah jazz in the first round of the 1993 NBA draft.  Luther signed a 5 million dollar contract.

But before the ink could dry Luther was cut from the team his rookie season and never played in the NBA again.
“I kick myself in the butt everyday just thinking about what could have been.”

So what happened?

I met up with Luther in his hometown of Jersey City to hear his story.

“Just bear with me a little because this is tough. Just being sexually abused. Violated. Tampered with.”

It’s been over 30 years but the memories of being raped and molested at 6 years old still haunt this 7 foot 2 giant of a man.

“I could put the hurt and the pain and worries in a box and lock it away and run that further away with it with the basketball. I used basketball to take the focus off of that in my mind. The further I got from it, it was right there, it wasn’t going anywhere.”

In this neighborhood, basketball was more than a sport it was a way of life.  But for Luther basketball was just an escape.

“It took me that much further from the hurt. College letters started coming in 8th grade. That added to the superstar athlete that I became in a year or two.”

Luther wasn’t just known for his skills on the court, he made a name for himself in the clubs as a well. The first time he got loaded he was in high school. By college he’d found his niche.

“I didn’t go into it thinking I would become a coke-head or I would have a problem with crack or drinking. I was doing it at my leisure but when I looked up it had got the best of me.”

By the time Luther reached the pentacle of his career, making it to the NBA, the bottom dropped out.  Between the missed practices, suicide attempts and manic episodes, the Utah Jazz had had enough.

Luther was cut from the team.

The fallen hero returned to his hometown a disappointment and a full-blown addict. Soon he was broke and living on the streets of Newark.

“I wanted to escape all of this. I wanted out. I just didn’t know how to get out.”

Luther was high and homeless for almost 10 years. He checked in and out of mental institutions and rehabs facilities time and time again.  Nothing helped him until one particular day.
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