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.
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
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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."
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."
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.