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Sebastian Telfair now: Bizarre turn from prodigy to prison
Jan 29, 2011; Minnesota Timberwolves guard Sebastian Telfair dribbles down the court in the second half at Target Center. (Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports)

Sebastian Telfair now: Bizarre turn from prodigy to prison

BROOKLYN, N.Y. (BVM) – Sebastian Telfair should have been dominating the NBA alongside LeBron James. Back in 2002, then-high schoolers graced the cover of SLAM Magazine together with the subheadline, “Sebastian Telfair and LeBron James are about to rule the world.” But as of today, Telfair has had countless run-ins with the law and is living a far different life than once imagined for the child prodigy. 

Telfair was famous at 11 and found himself in prison at 34. Here’s a look at where 37-year-old Sebastian Telfair is now and how he got here.  

Sebastian Telfair’s basketball career 

The hype around Telfair started early as he was ranked a top player in the nation in the 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th grade. After the eighth grade, he was selected as the youngest player to get invited to the elite Adidas ABCD Camp. By the time he finished high school at Lincoln, he was the all-time leading scorer in New York with 2,785 points. The five-star recruit and 2004 USA Mr. Basketball was destined for success. 

After a stellar middle and high school career, Telfair opted to get drafted into the NBA. He would have played for the University of Louisville, but he needed money to get himself and his family out of the projects of Brooklyn. 

Telfair was selected by the Portland Trail Blazers as the 13th overall pick in the 2004 NBA Draft. But, he would prove to not be a major star for the duration of his career (2004-2015). He tried to find his footing with teams including the Boston Celtics, Minnesota Timberwolves, Los Angeles Clippers, Cleveland Cavaliers, Phoenix Suns, Toronto Raptors and Oklahoma City Thunder. Telfair’s stats were underwhelming; in 564 games, he averaged 7.4 points and 3.5 assists per game. 

Where is Sebastian Telfair now?

Most recently, in August 2022, Telfair pleaded “not guilty” to his alleged connection in the FBI’s investigation on the health care insurance fraud scheme. Despite being multi-millionaires, a total of 18 former NBA players supposedly submitted “fake reimbursement claims for medical and dental services they never had” – so that they could collect cash from the NBA’s health care fund. This is an ongoing investigation, but Telfair claims he received 17 real root canals in one year. 

Also in recent years, there’s been a frequent search for, “Is Sebastian Telfair still in jail?” Back in 2017, Telfair was caught with several items during a traffic stop, including a semiautomatic rifle. The trial occurred in 2019 and Telfair was ultimately found guilty of possessing an illegal firearm. He began what was supposed to be a 3.5-year prison sentence in August 2019, but reports by TMZ show that he was released just days later. It’s unclear how he was released so early when he wasn’t eligible for parole until 2022. 

Overall, Telfair is living a very private life. The last time he posted on his public Twitter and Instagram was before his sentencing in 2019. The last major interview Telfair did was with The Breakfast Club in November 2018. 

“I’m always going to be good,” Telfair told The Breakfast Club. “I’m always going to be able to make money and do whatever I want to do. I’m just gold…. I was worried about things six months ago and I’m not worried about them today.” 

Unfortunately, his words didn’t age well. In 2019, his then-wife Samantha Rodriguez filed for divorce. Then in 2020, Telfair’s mother and brother passed away from COVID-19. 

Telfair also told The Breakfast Club that his first priority was music. One of his rap videos on YouTube has over half a million views. But, he hasn’t posted new music since 2019. 

Today, Telfair is estimated to be worth $4 million according to Celebrity Net Worth, but take that with a grain of salt. His alleged connection with the NBA fraud scandal is no doubt costing him. His tarnished reputation has caused him to lose countless sponsorship deals – like how he lost $20 million after Adidas cut ties. 

Ironically, Telfair is the founder of 99 Moves – a company founded to help athletes with financial literacy. But, it looks like that also fell through the cracks. As bizarre as life has been for Telfair, he’s noted that he’s proud of how far he’s come.  

“I did that already (played in the NBA),” Telfair told The Breakfast Club. “You’re not gonna look at me like I’m less than something for something I did already… My dream and my goal was to get out of the projects (which I did).”