Sterling found himself at the center of controversy after private recordings of him making racist comments were made public. The resulting firestorm saw the billionaire businessman banned from the NBA for life and made to pay a $2.5 million fine by the league. The team was later sold to former Microsoft executive Steve Balmer for an estimated $2 billion in August 2014.
Sterling’s ex-girlfriend, V. Stiviano, was responsible for the leaked audio, which recorded Sterling making racist comments over a photo Stiviano had posted on Instagram posing with Hall of Fame basketball player Magic Johnson. ‘It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you’re associating with black people,’ Sterling tells Stiviano in the tapes leaked to TMZ. ‘You can sleep with black people. You can bring them in, you can do whatever you want,’ but ‘the little I ask you is … not to bring them to my games.’
Sterling was married at the time to his wife Shelly. According to then Clippers executive Andy Roeser, Stiviano made the tapes public as revenge after Sterling’s wife sued her for the return of a $2.6 million Los Angeles duplex as well as a Ferrari, two Bentley and a Range Rover. Sterling has an estimated worth of $3.5 billion. Sterling and his wife of over 50 years filed for divorce in 2015.