Sampson, longtime Rocket, awaits sentencing

Updated: October 28, 2005, 3:04 PM ET
Associated Press

RICHMOND, Va. -- Former basketball star Ralph Sampson could escape jail time after agreeing Friday to a plea bargain on a charge he failed to pay more than $300,000 in child support.

The agreement will spare Sampson up to 30 months in prison and fines of up to $300,000, provided a judge accepts the negotiated plea at Sampson's sentencing Feb. 1.

The 7-foot-4 Sampson acknowledged in court he understood the terms of the plea but otherwise did not comment.

The 45-year-old former Virginia All-American and top NBA draft choice, agreed to make $307,036 in tardy child support payments to the Virginia Division of Child Support Enforcement.

Sampson admitted failing to provide $1,500 monthly child support for a 17-year-old daughter living in Falmouth, Va. He owes $17,536 in that case.

He also failed to pay $1,500 monthly to support another daughter, 19, living in Alexandria, Va. He owes $289,500 in that case.

A public defender representing Sampson said his client spent the summer trying to raise funds to settle his debts.

Court documents show Sampson earned more than $500,000 in 1999, but less than $12,000 in 2001.

After leaving Virginia, Sampson was the No. 1 overall pick by the Houston Rockets in the 1983 NBA draft. In nine NBA seasons, Sampson scored 7,039 points, averaging 15.4 per game.

The Harrisonburg, Va., native now lives in suburban Atlanta.

Sampson was arrested May 13, nine days after he was indicted.

Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press