clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Catching up with Fennis Dembo

Remember Fennis Dembo? With a name like that, old school basketball fans will never forget him. It was a year ago this week that we last wondered what ever happened to him -- and now we have the answer.

Dana O'Neil wrote an awfully compelling profile of Dembo for ESPN, describing his journey from being a Sports Illustrated coverboy at Wyoming to winning a title with the Pistons to life after his too-short career as a professional athlete, including a startlingly tragic incident six years ago:

When the intruder walked into the San Antonio house Fennis shared with his mother, Dembo met him at the door with a gun. Terrified and in the dark on the wee hours of that Easter morning, Dembo told the man to stop. When he didn't, Dembo fired, killing the would-be burglar.

That was more than six years ago. Today, thanks to counseling and time, Dembo can finally talk about the incident -- he was never charged -- and sounds like the fun-loving kid who captured a sport.

His easy laughter filters across the phone line and he is at once amusingly self-deprecating and perceptively honest about himself. He knows a lot of people look at him as a man who wasted his talent, a naturally gifted player whom one NBA team's GM said was every bit as good as Rony Seikaly and Danny Manning, that instead barely ended up with a sniff of the NBA.

Dembo is remarkably blunt about why he was one-and-done with the Pistons, and how butting heads with Chuck Daly may have hastened the end to his career. Check it out -- it's worth your time.