Skip to: Content
Skip to: Site Navigation
Skip to: Search

In Barry Bonds's wake, a trail of broken lives

The Barry Bonds trial has played out like a daily morality play, offering an unvarnished look at how sports stars' entourages can be made and ripped apart by fame, wealth, and scandal.

By Thomas PendergastContributor / April 6, 2011

Barry Bonds (l.) greets a supporter as he arrives at a federal courthouse for his perjury trial, on Wednesday in San Francisco.

Paul Sakuma/AP


San Francisco

Three weeks into home run king Barry Bonds’s perjury trial, testimony from some of the prosecution’s witnesses has exposed how the lives of some of those in Bonds’s inner circle have been torn apart in the eight years since the steroid scandal emerged.

Skip to next paragraph

If the testimonies are true, Bonds’s ex-mistress views her extramarital affair with the former San Francisco Giants slugger as taking years out of her life, leaving her with little to show for them.

Two of Bonds’s childhood friends, a brother and a sister, are now estranged from Bonds and the sister feels betrayed by the brother.

And his former personal trainer is now in jail.

While the tales of players and their entourages have become standard fare for the modern American professional sports fan, the stories unfolding in a federal courtroom in San Francisco in some ways represent something unique. They have offered an intimate and unvarnished look at how money and celebrity can become corrupting influences in the lives of the people surrounding them.

“There’s a saying among financial analysts: The more money that’s involved, the less likelihood for an ethical outcome,” said Marianne Jennings, a professor of legal and ethical studies at Arizona State University who has written about Bonds and the steroid scandal.

All four of these individuals had become dependent on Bonds for “a lifestyle that they could not have paid for on their own and, once they got a taste of that, they can’t give it up no matter what they see,” she says.

Bonds faces one count of obstruction of justice and three counts of making false statements to a federal grand jury in 2003, when he denied knowingly using banned performance-enhancing anabolic steroids.

Bonds's defense team rested Wednesday without calling a witness, meaning closing arguments will be Thursday and the jury could render a verdict Friday. Also Wednesday, prosecutors dropped a fourth charge of perjury against Bonds because US District Judge Susan Illston was prepared to dismiss it.

The former mistress

During their 2-1/2 weeks of calling witnesses, prosecutors called Bonds’s former mistress, Kimberly Bell, to testify about physical and emotional changes in Bonds that, they say, point to steroid use. In one instance, Ms. Bell said, Bonds attributed an injury to steroid use.

Bell said she has no intention of becoming the next Mrs. Bonds when the two met in 1994 and started dating.

“He was a handsome guy. He was charming and I was attracted to him,” Bell testified on Monday.

Yet when Bonds told her in 1997 that he would marry another woman, she said she was “shocked,” “upset,” and “blindsided” by the news.

Still, she continued seeing Bonds because “I just didn’t think he was going to go through with the marriage.”

When Bonds did get married, she settled for the role of “road-trip girlfriend,” seeing him while the Giants played away games.


Read Comments

View reader comments | Comment on this story