Karl Malone Honored At Louisiana Tech Despite Controversial Past
Louisiana Tech honored basketball star Karl Malone alongside other legendary athletes such as Fred Dean, Teresa Weatherspoon, and Willie Roaf. But as the Louisiana Illuminator reported, Malone’s personal conduct during his college days was far from perfect.
In 1983, when Malone was a sophomore at Louisiana Tech, he impregnated a 13-year-old, Gloria Bell. Malone was 20 years old. He denied fathering the child, and upon meeting the son, Demetress Bell, 17 years later, he told him, that he would have to make his own way in life. The child, who grew up to become an NFL offensive lineman, eventually reconciled with Malone.
Blood tests showed a 99.3 percent probability Malone was the father of Demetress Bell, according to the Associated Press.
This has not stopped Malone’s past from coming up whenever he is honored, and the fact that multiple college institutions are simultaneously facing fallout from sexual violence has not helped.
“I wonder what message the university believes it sends to our students when it installs a statue on our campus of a wealthy and famous man who sexually abused a minor when he was a star athlete,” Louisiana Tech history professor Drew McKevitt told the Illuminator.
When Malone was asked about his past by the Salt Lake Tribune during festivities around the 2023 NBA All-Star Game in Salt Lake City, Utah, he was less than diplomatic.
“I’m not discussing any of that. I don’t care,” Malone said. “That’s my life, it’s my personal life, and I’ll deal with that like I’ve had to deal with everything. So… whatever.”
Louisiana Tech’s administration offered several examples of its employees trying their best to keep the topic on sports as when Eric Wood, Louisiana Tech’s athletic director, and Jim Henderson, the president of the University of Louisiana System, which includes Louisiana Tech, offered their insight.
“The university is recognizing former student-athletes who have been inducted into the highest professional halls of fame,” Henderson said.
This is a very similar tone to Malone’s stated desire to leave his past in the past—even if it will always follow him.