Donald Sterling is an American-born billionaire and business mogul. He started out as a legal attorney and was able to build an independent law practice of his own in the 1960s. He later branched into real estate through which he acquired the greater chunk of his fortune.
Sterling gained further prominence in 1981 when he purchased NBA team the San Diego Clippers (present-day Los Angeles Clippers). His tenure as the owner of the Clippers lasted for 33 years before it eventually came to a rather unceremonious end. The business magnate was at the center of a racism scandal in 2014 which cost him ownership of the Clippers and also earned him a life ban from the NBA.
Who Is Donald Sterling? Age
Donald Tokowitz Sterling was born on April 26, 1934, Chicago, Illinois. His mother Susan and his father Mickey were both Ashkenazi Jewish immigrants. He schooled at Theodore Roosevelt High School where he served as class president and was a member of the school’s gymnastics team. For college, he attended California State University, Los Angeles after which he studied at Southwestern University School of Law, also in Los Angeles.
Sterling began his law practice in 1961 at a time where there were very limited opportunities for Jews at reputable law firms. He successfully established his own independent practice as a divorce and personal injury attorney. He ventured in real estate business in 1965 with the acquisition of Lesser Towers, a pair of large apartment buildings in Westwood, Los Angeles which he renamed to the Sterling Towers. In 1976, he leased the California Bank Building in Beverly Hills which he renamed to Sterling Plaza. His real estate business continued to flourish all through the 1980s, 1990s and into the 2000s and by 2014, he had acquired as many as 162 properties in Los Angeles.
His involvement in the sports business dates back to the year 1981 when he purchased the San Diego Clippers, a struggling NBA side, for the sum of $12.5 million. The team moved to Los Angeles in 1984 and adopted the name “Los Angeles Clippers”. Sterling and the Clippers continued to struggle through several unsuccessful seasons until the 1992-93 season when they recorded their first winning season. The highlight of his tenure with the Clippers came in the 2010s when they won 2 successive division titles. The team won the Pacific Division title in the 2012-13 season and equally replicated the same feat in the 2013-14 season.
Sterling’s ownership of the Los Angeles Clippers came to an infamous end in April 2014 after he was found to have made racist comments during a privately-recorded conversation. The exchange was reportedly recorded in September 2013 by his mistress at that time V. Stiviano and it was released to the public on April 25, 2014, by TMZ Sports.
For a league which is predominantly made up of black players, Sterling’s comments were completely condemned by all stakeholders in the NBA. With the support of the NBA Board of Governors, Sterling’s wife sold the Clippers to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer despite her husband’s refusal to authorize the sale. Donald’s Sterling was also banned from the NBA for life and he also received a $2.5 million fine from the league.
Donald Sterling’s wife of over 6 decades is Rochelle Shelly Sterling (née Stein). The couple tied the knot on August 20, 1955, and they have welcomed 3 children in the course of their marriage. They have a daughter Joanna and 2 sons, Scott and Chris.
Sterling’s only daughter Joanna Miller (née Sterling) is married with 4 children. Her husband Eric Miller previously served as the director of basketball administration of the LA Clippers.
Though married, Donald Sterling has been infamous for his involvement in numerous extra-marital relationships many of which have found their way to the media circles. Back in the 90s, the controversial business mogul got together with a woman named Alexandra Castro whom he also gifted a one million dollar apartment. Their relationship ultimately came to an end in 2003 after which Sterling sought to regain ownership of the apartment. After a fierce legal battle, the duo reached an out-of-court settlement in 2004.
Sterling is also known to have gotten involved with another woman sometime around 2012, a circumstance which nearly led to the breakdown of his marriage. One of his ex-girlfriends V. Stiviano (born María Vanessa Perez) was responsible for leaking the tapes in which he made the racist remarks which eventually cost him ownership of the LA Clippers.
Though he may not be a sterling example in terms of ethics and morality, this business magnate has continued to make great financial gains and despite the setback of losing ownership of his former NBA franchise, he has maintained his billionaire status. Donald Sterling had his net worth valued at an astonishing $3.6 billion in February 2019.