Charles Barkley Lost Weight Before His Daughter’s Wedding in Anticipation of the Hora: ‘All Jewish People on Deck’

Charles Barkley has always said what’s on his mind. But the brash former NBA star and current TNT analyst was definitely anxious for his daughter’s wedding. During the traditional Jewish wedding, the father of the bride was lifted on a chair as part of a dance called the hora. The 6-foot-6 Barkley wasn’t sure the guests could do it, so he worked to slim down beforehand.

Barkley’s career and quiet personal life

Charles Barkley poses for a picture with his sculpture at the Philadelphia 76ers training facility
Charles Barkley with his sculpture at the 76ers’ training facility | Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

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While he was loud and outspoken on the court, Barkley’s wife and daughter stayed out of the spotlight. Barkley played college ball at Aubur. Although he didn’t have the typical basketball body — he was shorter and stockier than most — he made up for it with strength and determination.

Before the 1984 draft, it was apparent the Philadelphia 76ers were going to grab him. And Barkley gained more weight in the hopes they would pass him up. It didn’t work, and he went to Philly as the fifth pick. He spent his time there working on conditioning and managing his weight.

Barkley won the rebounding title, was named to the All-Star team, but most importantly — he met his wife there. Maureen Blumhardt worked in legal aid and as a part-time model when she met Barkley in a Philadelphia restaurant. The pair married in 1989 and had their only child, a daughter Christiana, the same year.  

Barkley joined the Phoenix Suns in 1992, where he played some of his best basketball despite injuries. He won MVP and led his team to the NBA Finals, where they were defeated by Michael Jordan and the Bulls. He was a member of the 1992 Olympic basketball team, dubbed the “Dream Team,” and won a gold medal.

Charles Barkley was scared of the hora

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When Barkley’s daughter got engaged to Ilya Hoffman he was happy but also a bit apprehensive. Hoffman is Jewish, and the wedding would feature a celebratory dance known as the hora. Lifting Barkley and his wife high into the air on a chair gave him major anxiety. He’s a big man. He’s 6 feet 5 inches, 250lbs, with a 7′ wingspan. That’s a lot to carry around on a chair, and he was worried someone would get injured.  

He talked about his nerves to Jimmy Kimmel, which The Jerusalem Post reported. “I’ve been really working out hard because apparently, they’ve got to pick me up in a chair. Listen, I need all Jewish people on deck, brother. Cause I can only get so skinny by Saturday, man.” Barkley was noticeably slimmer at the wedding, and everything went well during the ceremony and the hora — he even enjoyed it.

Barkley’s relationship with his new son-in-law

Christiana Barkley met her future husband at a bar where they were watching a basketball game. The funny thing is, Hoffman isn’t a sports fan and barely even knew who Charles Barkley was, besides being “the guy in Space Jam.” After dating for a few years, Hoffman was ready to propose, but he first wanted permission from his future father-in-law. The couple was in Arizona for a visit when Hoffman decided it was the perfect opportunity to have the conversation — but things didn’t go as planned.  

Barkley had to leave early for a trip, wrecking Hoffman’s plan to talk to him later that evening, so as The New York Times reports, Mrs. Barkley pulled Hoffman aside to have the chat while Barkley was packing. Of course, Barkley agreed, “I remember being really emotional about it. That’s not something that happens all the time.”