O’Bannon mom weighs in on UCLA-China scandal
"These young men will forever be remembered for this unfortunate incident and will probably be made examples of to 'save face'"
O’Bannon family (left to right) Charles, Edward, Sr.; Madeline, and Edward, Jr. celebrate the UCLA Bruins national NCAA basketball champion in 1995. Photo courtesy O’Bannon family
‘What these young men did was inexcusable. Beyond stupid! I can’t imagine what they were thinking.’
EDITOR’S NOTE: Edward and Madeline O’Bannon are former schoolmates of mine at Manuel Dominguez High School in Compton, Calif., class of ’70 and ‘71. Edward, Sr., was a four-sport star, who would later marry his high school sweetheart, Madeline. The couple produced two sons, who developed into stellar UCLA basketball stars. You might have heard about them — Edward and Charles O’Bannon.
People like to excuse the three freshmen embroiled in a shoplifting scandal — LiAngelo Ball, Jalen Hill, and Cody Riley — as young, imperfect 19-year-old kids. Many are tired of hearing this refrain, if numerous opinions on social media can be a gauge. I was 19 once; never considered stealing anything due to my upbringing. Edward and Charles were 19 years old once, too, but benefited from a sound upbringing by Ed, Sr. and Madeline. Surely, they weren’t perfect, but I don’t think they ever considered for a nanosecond doing such a boneheaded thing as shoplifting in a foreign country.
The following are thoughts by Madeline, who certainly qualifies to comment on the unfortunate scandal, having raised two former UCLA athletes, and now with a grandson, Charles O’Bannon, Jr., lacing up his sneakers for the USC Trojans. — Jarrette Fellows, Jr.
Dear Jarrette,During my sons’ 7-8 years at UCLA, I’d often pray that I would not wake up to headlines of my sons being in some kind of trouble (now I’m praying for my grands). I thank God that it never happened, but it could have. The news coverage was tremendous. As you mentioned, they are not perfect. Things happen but stealing is not something I would imagine they would do. Ed, Sr. and I were each blessed with amazing parents who set great examples of how to raise and discipline children and now they’re doing the same with theirs. Again, they are not perfect but we’ve never had any disciplinary problems.
They made us proud. [They competed] nearly 20 years, [but] this is a new day. Today’s young people are exposed to so much, I’m sure it is much more difficult. No excuse, however! What these young men did was inexcusable. Beyond stupid! I can’t imagine what they were thinking. One positive thing is that hopefully others will learn from this. I believe these young men should be held accountable for their actions. I don’t know what the punishment should be, but I’m glad they are back in the U.S., as this international incident could have escalated into something far worse. These young men will forever be remembered for this unfortunate incident and will probably be made examples of to “save face.”
About Edward and Charles O’Bannon
Edward O’Bannon, Jr. gained national fame as a power forward for the UCLA Bruins men’s basketball team on their 1995 NCAA championship team. He was the ninth pick in the >1995 National Basketball Association (NBA) Draft, selected by the New Jersey Nets. He spent only two seasons in the NBA, but continued his professional career for another eight years, mainly playing in Europe. His number 31 was >retired by UCLA in 1996, and he was inducted into >UCLA Athletics Hall of Fame in 2005, and the Pac-12 Basketball Hall of Honor in 2012.
Charles O’Bannon was a star small forward/shooting guard for the UCLA Bruins, where he was a starter on the school’s >1995 NCAA Championship team. Charles was a first team >All-Pacific-10 Conference selection in 1996 and 1997, and was also voted co-Most Valuable Player of the Bruins in both of those years. He was selected by theDetroit Pistons of the NBA with the third pick in the second round of the 1997 NBA draft. He played for the Pistons for two seasons before being released. He scored his NBA career high of 14 points on April 14, 1999 against the >Charlotte Hornets. Charles continued his professional basketball career playing in various leagues outside of the U.S. in Italy, Poland, and Japan. He ended his career in 2013.