"Basketball Wives" star Suzie Ketchum says she first encountered the NBA "wife" lifestyle at 19 years old, not knowing what it all meant. "All of a sudden there was all this money and clothes and cars, so of course you get wrapped up in the lifestyle," she says. After 10 years she left NBA player Michael Olowokandi to become a real estate agent and raise their two children. She spoke with ESSENCE.com about the NBA "wife" lifestyle and rumored reports that the NBA has banned all players from watching the show... ESSENCE.com: Is it true that the NBA has banned players and their wives from watching your show? SUZIE KETHCUM:
That's something that I heard through friends that are associated with some of the teams, especially the Miami Heat. That's why a lot of wives weren't able to be on the show. I do understand that the organization doesn't want players to deal with that during the season. ESSENCE.com: Your castmate Jennifer Williams has described the NBA "wife" lifestyle as dysfunctional. Do you agree? KETCHUM:
It's definitely chaotic and things seem to happen all at once and very fast. I don't think it's only the NBA, though. It probably pertains to any young person that makes a lot of money at a young age. You get all sorts of people who want to be associated with you, and want things from you. And then you have women all over you, so temptation is also a factor. ESSENCE.com: You were in a relationship for 10 years, though. You must have known what you were getting into? KETCHUM:
I met my ex when I was pretty young and he was always very much about me and our home and our privacy. I think when you're so young you don't really know yourself yet so what you think that what's his is also yours. And for a while you'll do anything to protect that until it gets to a point where you're like, 'Wow, wait a minute, why am I living my life this way?' ESSENCE.com: What was it like? KETCHUM:
All of a sudden there was all this money and clothes and cars and we were in Los Angeles, so of course you get wrapped up in the lifestyle. Some people stay wrapped, but for me a big life-changing moment was my father being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and dying. That's when I said, 'I don't want to live my life like this. I want someone who's going to be a partner.' I had all these money and beautiful cars but felt so empty. ESSENCE,com: Can you relate to Gloria Govan since she's so young and in a relationship with an NBA player? KETCHUM:
I think all of us can relate because at one point we all thought our men would never cheat. There was a couple of years where I thought Michael would never cheat. I think part of it is just being young and being inexperienced. Some women might stay like that their entire lives with a guy like that, but it wasn't for me. ESSENCE.com: Is it the same kind of temptation even when players retire? KETCHUM:
I thought things would calm down, but I think a lot of athletes have a hard time accepting retirement and so it doesn't really get that much better.