tephon Marbury has publicly dismissed accusations of being a pedophile after recently choosing a rather strange way of promoting his new glowing basketball.
On Sunday, Marbury posted a photo onto Instagram of a Chinese boy sleeping naked and what at first appears to be a poor effort at censorship of the boy’s private parts, but is actually Marbury’s new “globe ball,” a light-up basketball that the star is now marketing on social media, resting on the kid’s groin. The post was made without much context from Marbury, only captioned: “It begins #starbury#globeball #austin #yiyi #china.”
Understandably, the post soon raised alarms on both Instagram and Chinese social media with some calling it “inappropriate,” “disgusting,” and “really creepy” while even accusing Marbury of being a pedophile.
On Sunday night, Marbury responded to the controversy on Weibo, where he has more than 4.5 million followers, stating that the boy in the photo is his “nephew” (the son of his Chinese translator) and accusing his critics of having dirty, hurtful minds for seeing anything wrong with his post.
“It’s sad that people would use their imagination in this way,” he wrote. “Hurt people always try to hurt people. I’m happy this is my nephew and I’ve been taking care of him since he was born. Yesterday was amazing and today is even better. The only truth to a rumor is I heard.”
The following day, Marbury continued to defend the post on Weibo, writing in a series of responses to netizens:
Sadly we had to defend ourselves verses people who tried to assasinate my character because I teach little kids basketball. I feel bad for the people who tried to create this negative energy on earth for people to talk. I will pray for your heart to unharden from your wicked ways
So sad that hurt people try to hurt people often. Pray for them! They didn’t know when they were making up their lie and story that YIYI is a my baby lol. They don’t know I’ve been talking to him since he was in his mother’s stomach. That’s the way we love in 马布里 FAMILY.
I worry about the person who was that angry with life that he or she would think or say such a thing. Kids all over the world will sleep with their ball like a pro is supposed to do. Eat sleep ball and do it again!!
A liar is a liar and a lie will never beat the truth. People will use every tactic to hurt you when they can’t touch you. Trust me I know these type of people. I’ve been dealing with them 4 over 20yrs This is nothing new under the sun. They said the same about Micheal Jackson.
Despite all of the controversy, Marbury has refused to delete the photo from his Instagram page. The post now has more than 600 likes and boasts comments like: “Yo, this is not cool man. Are you a pedo???” and “Hey, what do you mean posting a naked sleeping boy on the internet?! This is super weird!”
Further down in the Instagram comments, Marbury did finally step forward to give some context, explaining how the photo was taken by the child’s mother and shared with him over WeChat to show how the boy wouldn’t let the glowing basketball leave his side for even a moment.
Always known for being more than a little offbeat, Stephon Marbury retired from professional basketball in February after a 22-year career that saw him become a NBA All-Star, and then, more unexpectedly, an icon in China. During his time with the Beijing Ducks, he led the team to three championships and established himself as one of China’s most famous and beloved athletes.
He has received the title of honorary Beijing citizen, his own series of stamps, and even a statue outside the Ducks’ arena. In 2016, he also became the first foreign celebrity to ever receive a Chinese green card. The following year, he starred in his own biopic called My Other Home, chronicling his journey from the NBA to the CBA.
It’s not completely clear what’s next for Marbury, though he will likely continue to expand his Starbury brand and merchandise in China. His “globe balls” are set to go on sale in November.