'Bad News' Barnes arrested on cocaine charge

Updated: May 15, 2007, 6:37 PM ET
Associated Press

PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- Marvin Barnes was arrested early Tuesday and charged with cocaine possession, the latest legal problem for the former basketball star who has been battling drug addiction for years.

Police said they found a bag of cocaine inside an SUV that the 54-year-old Barnes was driving.

Marvin Barnes
NBA Photo Library/Getty ImagesMarvin Barnes, seen here in his ABA glory days with the Spirits of St. Louis, has previously struggled with drug addiction.

Barnes, nicknamed "Bad News" for his off-the-court problems, was arrested along a highway shoulder in Johnston, said Major Steven O'Donnell, a state police spokesman.

Two officers approached the Lincoln Navigator before dawn thinking the car had broken down, O'Donnell said. When Barnes stepped outside, the troopers spotted what appeared to be a bag of cocaine inside. A woman riding with Barnes was not arrested.

Barnes, who lives in Providence, was released from custody Tuesday after promising to seek drug treatment and appear for his next hearing in Kent County District Court in Warwick, said his attorney, Richard K. Corley.

Barnes's attorney said the basketball star has decided to take a temporary leave as president of the nonprofit Rebound Foundation, which serves disadvantaged children, until his personal problems are under control.

"Hopefully, he's going to be working on that on a daily basis between now and the rest of his life, because it's a lifelong illness that he deals with every day," Corley said.

The arrest was the most recent for the 6-foot-9 forward who led Providence College to the Final Four in 1973. Philadelphia drafted him in the first round in 1974, though Barnes instead signed with the Spirits of St. Louis in the now-defunct American Basketball Association.

Named ABA Rookie of the Year in 1975, Barnes averaged 24.1 points and 13.4 rebounds in his two ABA seasons before the league folded. He went to the Detroit Pistons in 1976 before bouncing between the Buffalo Braves, Boston Celtics and San Diego Clippers. His last season in the NBA was in 1980.

Barnes has acknowledged in the past that he was addicted to cocaine, and said he was trying to recover.

"I'm getting the help I need," Barnes told WPRI-TV during a brief interview Tuesday. "I'm pretty confident that everything will turn out OK."

When sentenced in 1990 for stealing videotapes from a San Diego adult bookstore, Barnes' former lawyer said the basketball star had been in five different drug treatment programs. He's also been arrested for trespassing, being under the influence of narcotics and burglary of a locked vehicle.

"I went from the top to the bottom and I've seen everything in the middle," Barnes said in a 1994 interview with The Associated Press. "A couple of times, I thought I was going to die. I know God's got plans for me because I'm not dead."

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press