Name at birth: Donald Tokowitz
Donald Sterling is the NBA owner who was banned from the league for life in 2014 for making racially insensitive remarks. Donald Sterling was born David Tokowitz in Chicago in 1934; he legally added the last name Sterling as an adult. He grew up in Los Angeles and graduated from Cal State University, Los Angeles (CSULA — not to be confused with UCLA) in 1956, and then graduated from Southwestern University School of Law in 1960. He found success as a divorce and personal injury lawyer, then made millions as a real estate magnate and landlord. He was not without controversy; in 2006, the U.S. Justice Department sued him for housing discrimination, saying Sterling had refused to rent to African Americans and Hispanics. Sterling paid a fine of $2.73 million, plus millions more in court costs and attorneys’ fees, in 2009. Despite his successes in real estate, he became better known as the owner of a National Basketball Association franchise. He bought the San Diego Clippers for $12.5 million in 1981, and moved the team to Los Angeles in 1984. For the first two decades of his ownership, his teams were regularly last-place finishers in their division and he had a reputation for valuing money over winning. That improved in the 2000s, but in 2014 the franchise was rocked when the gossip website TMZ released a privately-recorded tape leaked to them by Sterling’s former companion, a woman named V. Stiviano. The tape included Sterling making comments like, “It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you’re associating with black people” and “You can sleep with [black people]. You can bring them in, you can do whatever you want. The little I ask you is... not to bring them to my games." The tapes caused a national uproar. Sterling denied being a racist, but a few days later, he was fined $2.5 million and banned from the NBA for life by league commissioner Adam Silver. Silver said he would ask the NBA’s board of governors to force Silver to sell the franchise.
Donald Sterling married the former Rochelle Stein in 1955. They remain married but have been separated for several years. They had three children: Chris, Scott, and Joanna. Scott Sterling died in 2013 of an apparent drug overdose.