Barkley's brother receives donor heart

by Jeramie McPeek
VP, Digital

Lee Shappell
The Arizona Republic
Mar. 20, 2003

At a time when the world is on the brink of turmoil, Charles Barkley has found peace with his maker.

Less than 48 hours after Barkley met with Suns owner Jerry Colangelo and ended their seven-year feud, Barkley's brother Darryl, 36, received a donor heart in a transplant procedure in Birmingham, Ala.

"I believe God has given me a special ability to take care of people less fortunate," Barkley said by telephone from Birmingham on Wednesday morning. "So it's kind of weird how something that had been bugging me all these years, once I cleared the air, my brother ended up getting a heart. I was at peace right after the meeting with Jerry. I felt like a heavy burden had been lifted.

"And then I got the phone call that my brother was getting a heart. I don't consider myself a religious person, but I do consider myself a spiritual person."

Barkley had planned to make a long-anticipated appearance at America West Arena on Friday for his friend Michael Jordan's final game in Phoenix.

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He will now remain in Birmingham through the weekend during a critical period in which Darryl's body could reject the heart.

"I hate missing Michael's game, but with this situation there is such a fine window that's really critical," Barkley said.

Colangelo, upon hearing Barkley's news, said that he, too, embraces the power of faith.

"God works in strange ways," Colangelo said. "Forgiveness goes a long way toward healing. Perhaps Charles considers himself a spiritual person rather than a religious person, but I would say that people of faith believe that miracles can happen, and maybe that's what has happened here."

Barkley's brother had been on a transplant list for more than a year. Darryl's heart had been functioning at 10 percent capacity, according to Barkley, leading to complications with other organs.

"It's unfortunate that somebody had to die for this to happen, but I can't describe the feeling I have that my brother gets a second chance," Barkley said. "I'm mostly excited for my mom and my grandma. This has really weighed on them. We almost lost him about five times."

Barkley, speaking for the first time about Monday's meeting with Colangelo, praised the Suns owner for making him feel welcome.

"Jerry was terrific," Barkley said. "We agreed that whatever is in the past will stay in the past. We can't change the past, but we agreed to move forward. I felt a lot better when I left Jerry's office."

Barkley spent two hours after the meeting going through the Suns' offices greeting employees, he said.

He intends to attend the first Suns home game after he returns from Alabama.

"I can't wait to be a Suns fan again and go see some NBA basketball in my hometown," he said.

COPYRIGHT 2003, AZCENTRAL.COM. Used with permission.


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