Sebastian Telfair was one of the most talked-about high school basketball players ever. Telfair gained so much recognition in high school that a documentary called “Through the Wire” was done on him. The New York native was a household name not only in the state but across the country.
Telfair was poised to go on to have a successful career in the NBA. But, when he made it to the league, the high school kid that everyone enjoyed watching was not the same player. He started to become an afterthought during his time in the league.
A star in high school
Telfair grew up in a rough environment in Brooklyn, New York, and basketball was his outlet. Telfair wasn’t the only basketball star in his family. He is the cousin of former NBA star Stephon Marbury. During Telfair’s senior year, he was faced with a major decision on whether he would go to the University of Louisville or go straight to the league. That’s a lot for an 18-year old faced with a choice like that. Telfair wanted to move his family out of the projects and knew if he went straight to the league, he would get that opportunity.
The media followed Telfair throughout high school, especially during his senior year. When ESPN decided to do a documentary on the young star, it gave viewers an in-depth look at what Telfair went through daily. He starred at Abraham Lincoln High School, which was a basketball powerhouse in the state of New York.
During his senior year, he was named New York Mr. Basketball and USA Mr. Basketball. He participated in the McDonald’s All-American Game, which features the top high school players in the country, and he was named the game’s MVP. Everything was going right for Telfair. He had fame, success, and a promising future. When he made the decision to go straight to the NBA, his future would change forever.
Telfair’s NBA career
Telfair was the No. 13 pick in the 2004 NBA draft by the Portland Trail Blazers. He would find himself bounces around from team to team throughout his 10-year NBA career and never established himself as a player.
People questioned his decision on going straight to the league because he did not have the success that he was projected to have. In his 10-year career, he averaged 7.4 points and 3.5 assists per game. His last NBA season was with the Oklahoma City Thunder, and he only played in 16 games with the team. He would go on to finish his career playing with the Chinese Basketball Association.
Off the court troubles
Telfair found himself in some trouble with the law during his playing career and after. In 2007 he was arrested along with a friend and charged with felony possession of a weapon. The police found a handgun in the car that Telfair was in, and in 2008, Telfair pleaded guilty to criminal possession of a weapon and received three years’ probation. The NBA gave him a three-game-suspension following the guilty plea.
In 2017 Telfair was arrested again on weapons and marijuana-related charges. In 2019 he was found guilty of weapons charges and was sentenced to three and a half years in prison. Once a highly rated recruit out of high school is now serving jail time. What could have been a promising career never happened.