Greg Minor is Not Sharing the Wealth

June 5, 1997

The U-Haul truck left the comfortable, four-bedroom, brick and vinyl-sided home on Lambach Lane for the final time last week. The four children hugged their stuffed animals, clutched their special toys, and fought back tears as they and their mother also departed, leaving the pleasant development on the east side of Louisville, Ky., for a far different living arrangement in the city's rugged west end.

It wasn't by choice that Celestyne Rowan and her children left. She was evicted. The father of three of the children, Boston Celtics guard Greg Minor, reneged on a deal to purchase the home, forcing the realtor to begin eviction proceedings and Rowan to move into her mother's cramped two-bedroom house in one of the city's less desirable and increasingly dangerous neighborhoods.

Rowan had readied herself for the move ever since the eviction letter arrived early last month. Instead of giving the children their own bedrooms, she slept with them in Greg Jr.'s room for the final month, the better to prepare them for what was to come. Their nights now are spent in a smaller room where the blue paint is peeling, the ventilation is inadequate, the curtains hang askew, and the sole bathroom is downstairs.

This new home is just off West Broadway, a road that knifes through downtown Louisville all the way to the Ohio River. As you leave downtown, West Broadway becomes a thoroughfare of fast-food establishments, pawn shops, mortuaries, and boarded-up buildings. Rowan remembers growing up in this part of town and sleeping on the porch during the oppressive Kentucky summer nights.

"You couldn't do that now," she said. "You might get shot. The thing I can't understand is that Greg knows what this neighborhood is like. He has been in our house. He told me that this is the type of neighborhood he wanted to get away from. And yet here we are.

"The kids are pretty upset," she continued. "They can't play outside. They can't ride their bikes. They don't know why this has happened to them."

Rowan and the children are here because she has no money to move elsewhere. She and Minor have had an abuse-marred relationship for the last six years, a relationship that included an assault charge against the three-year Celtic and one that also produced three children: Kira, 4; Greg Jr., 3; and Khalid, 1 1/2. Rowan's oldest child, Jamaira Payton, is 6. She is not Minor's child but has known him as the sole father figure in her life.

The assault charge arose out of a June 21, 1996, altercation in Louisville. Minor agreed to enter a counseling program for batterers in Boston to avoid trial on the charge. The program takes a year to complete.

According to Rowan, who has sole custody of the children, Minor has not seen his family since February. He has called once since then, on Greg Jr.'s third birthday two months ago. Later that month, Rowan and her children, living on $ 2,000 a month in child support, were told they'd have to leave Lambach Lane because Minor never had taken title to the property and had no intention of closing the deal.

In the April 30 eviction letter to Rowan, realtor Larry E. Thompson, whose company brokered the deal, said Minor "willfully and intentionally deceived us." Ten months ago, Minor had placed a significant deposit on the property, in the area of $ 40,000, with the rest to be financed conventionally. He now will forfeit the down payment. Reached at his Louisville office yesterday, Thompson would not elaborate.

Rowan's only source of income is the child support. The $ 2,000 amount was established when Minor was earning salaries of $ 250,000 and $ 325,000 in his first two seasons with the Celtics. The figure is below the state of Kentucky's recommendation for child support for a family of four, which is $ 2,305 for someone earning $ 115,000.

Last summer, Minor received a substantial pay raise, signing a five-year, guaranteed deal for $ 12.5 million, an average of $ 2.5 million per season. However, there was no automatic increase in child support payments. Rowan and her attorney, Maury Kommor, asked for an increase to reflect Minor's new salary. In February, their petition was granted and Minor was ordered to pay $ 30,000 a month.

"Although this is undeniably a lot of money," wrote Karen Stewart, the domestic relations commissioner who reviewed the case, "it would be an egregious error to permit Mr. Minor to live as a millionaire while his children live in relative poverty."

Minor appealed the decision, and the money is in escrow. Rowan, meanwhile, never received a check for the month of May and is two months behind in her bills. Tomorrow Rowan and Minor are scheduled to appear in Jefferson County Family Court, where a judge will be asked to rule on the appeal. Neither Minor nor his lawyers in Boston, Richard Snyder, or Louisville, Virginia Burbank, would comment for this story. The court papers reveal that they are challenging the increase primarily on procedural grounds.

Celtics president-coach Rick Pitino said yesterday he was unaware of the situation but added, "I'm very concerned about it. I obviously need to sit down and speak with him and his agent to see if I can get to the bottom of this."

In the meantime, Rowan and the children live with her mother, Gwendolyn Rowan, while fending off bill collectors. Among her debts are monthly payments of more than $ 138 for a washing machine, dryer, and refrigerator that Minor bought on time and are now in storage. There is an unpaid balance of nearly $ 2,300 for the three appliances. Rowan has missed the first monthly storage bill of $ 140, resulting in a $ 25 late fee. Two months ago, the right rear tire on her Dodge Neon blew out while she was driving on the expressway, her children in the car. She has not replaced the tire and uses the vehicle only when she can inflate the damaged tire.

She is responsible for the phone, food, clothing, insurance, medical co-payments, and all other living expenses. She never bought a bed for the home on Lambach Lane and, on one occasion, had to borrow money to buy milk. On another, she had to borrow money to keep the phone in service. She had to borrow money to buy Christmas presents. She has nothing left.

"I just hope the court does the right thing," Rowan said. "Because if it doesn't, I don't think I can make it. I really don't."

Rowan, 26, and Minor, 25, never married, nor have they lived together for any sustained period of time. This past December, Rowan, Khalid, and Greg Jr. briefly visited Minor in Waltham, Mass. They stayed in a hotel, and Minor joined them. It was awkward from the outset and just the third time Minor had seen his youngest child. The previous month, he had sent Khalid a $ 30 toy telephone for his first birthday.

"We didn't really get along well at all," Rowan recalled. "It wasn't like it used to be. It hasn't been that way for a long time."

College romance sours

They met during Minor's freshman season at the University of Louisville. He was a shy country boy from Sandersville, Ga., coming to play for Denny Crum's Cardinals, one of the top college programs in the country. She was a high school graduate with a baby. They were introduced through a mutual friend and were together throughout Minor's college career, often living in Minor's dormitory room.

Their first child, Kira, was born in August 1992, after Minor's sophomore season. Greg Jr. was born in April 1994, just after Minor's final college season. Khalid was born in November 1995 at the beginning of Minor's second season with the Celtics.

While Minor was at Louisville, Rowan went on welfare and also received money from her mother. Then when Minor was signed by the Celtics in 1994, the two worked out the child support arrangement. During that first year, Rowan and the children lived with Minor for three months in Minor's Bedford, Mass., condominium. But around Christmas, Rowan and the children returned to Kentucky so she could attend her grandmother's funeral. Minor called shortly thereafter and said he wanted to live alone the rest of the season. He mailed the children's belongings back to Kentucky.

Rowan moved to an apartment in Doral Court, a complex that abuts Interstate 64 and is only a short drive from the more well-heeled Gaslite Estates, where Lambach Lane is located. Doral Court is a well-maintained complex with a swimming pool and tennis courts, and Rowan lived in a three-bedroom unit for which she paid $ 779 a month in rent.

She soon had trouble paying the bills there. She never had a telephone installed. On more than one occasion, the landlord had to call the Celtics to find out when she could expect her next check.

Their relationship had always been rocky, and according to Rowan, there had been periodic incidents of domestic violence. She never called the police. In the summer of 1995, the two were in a car accident in Louisville. Rowan, five months pregnant with Khalid, broke a bone in her neck and spent two weeks in traction. Her mother had to take a leave from her job to care for her daughter.

Then, last June, Rowan was in the kitchen of her apartment, making macaroni and cheese with chicken. The front doorbell rang, and through the peephole, she saw Minor. The two had just quarreled over the use of Minor's Land Cruiser. She refused to let him in. Minor went around to the back and came in through the patio slider.

An argument soon turned ugly. She says he doused her with cognac and hit her. The children, witnesses to it all, started crying. "I thought he was going to kill me," Rowan said. Finally, Rowan broke free and ran to a phone booth some 75 yards away at the entrance to the complex and called her sister, asking for help.

Soon police were at the complex and Minor was arrested, charged with fourth-degree assault, and taken away in a van. Rowan did not want to press charges, but Jefferson County has a "no drop" policy regarding domestic violence charges. Minor said at the time, "Things have been blown all out of proportion. I know what kind of guy I am. Usually, I walk away from these things."

At his court appearance, an agreement was reached to place Minor in EMERGE, a Boston counseling program for batterers. If he completes the program, the assault charge will be dropped. According to Kommor, Rowan's attorney, there was no stipulation in the agreement that EMERGE periodically inform the court of Minor's compliance. Minor is scheduled to finish the program in early August.

Minor will begin his fourth professional season this fall. Under terms of the contract he signed, he will earn roughly $ 2.2 million for the year. (The contract started at $ 1.8 million and increases 20 percent per year.) Minor receives additional money from the NBA's licensing deals - around $ 75,000 - as well as money from Nike, his shoe company. According to Rowan, he also gets up to $ 5,000 in free clothing and shoes from Nike.

The order being appealed is retroactive to last June 27. That was the date that Rowan filed the petition seeking sole custody and for an increase in child support. The case dragged on into February, when a hearing was held. According to court records, Minor never appeared, despite being served notice months earlier. It was then that Stewart ordered that the monthly payments be raised to $ 30,000 and gave Rowan sole custody. It was also then, according to sources, that any hope of salvaging either the relationship or the house on Lambach Lane came to a crashing halt.


FLCeltsFan said...

I never knew this. But Greg Minor just went on my extreme dislike list. He may not get along with his babys' mama, but if you make a baby, you need to be responsible for him. Children are a blessing and should always be viewed as such.

Lex said...


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