Karle's Korner: Charles Barkley's Mother: The Real MVP!

Published: Jun. 23, 2015 at 5:19 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 23, 2015 at 7:31 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - The following is a commentary blog from FOX6 Sports Director Rick Karle:

Look into the eyes of Charles Barkley and you can see her. Listen to the words of Charles Barkley and you can hear her. As a basketball Hall of Famer grieves over the death his mother, I can only tell Charles that as time marches on, fond memories will replace those that are so painful. Charcey Glenn died last Friday at the age of 73, leaving behind a legacy of spirit, resolve and a standing tall in the midst of chaos. To truly know Charles Barkley, you truly need to know the story of Charcey Glenn, a woman who may have been the real MVP of the family.

Charcey knew all about work ethic from a young age, after all, her parents Johnnie Mae and Adolphus Edwards did what they could to scrape by the early 1940's. Heck, they were mere teenagers when Charcey arrived. Johnnie Mae's strong will would soon be absorbed by Charcey, who would also marry young. Barely out of high school, Charcey would marry Frank Barkley. A few years later? A son named Charles Wade Barkley would be welcomed on February 20th, 1963. Charcey's rollercoaster ride was about to begin.

How many times would she be knocked down only to get back up? A blood transfusion for baby Charles due to anemia? Charcey led the charge to get it done. Her husband Frank walking out on the family, bolting for California just as Charles had just taken his first steps? Charcey stood tall. And finalizing a divorce as Charles could have used a father figure? Charcey pushed through. Oh, life was anything but a joy ride in those days. Charcey would clean houses, a few in the morning and another few in the afternoon. Her mother Johnnie Mae would work in a meat packing factory, dabbled in a beauty salon. And dinner? The usual fare would be bologna and cheese sandwiches provided by the government.

Suddenly, as much as life appeared down, things started to look up. Charcey would marry a man named Clee Glenn, and the couple would soon have two sons, Darryl and John. So what if the Glenns crammed their family into a one bedroom apartment? They had each other. Until tragedy struck. It was the mid-seventies when Clee Glenn would be killed in an auto accident. Charles was 11 years old, his brothers much younger. Charcey Glenn, knocked down again, stood back up. Charcey would be there for her sons and her mother, never stronger.

Still reeling from the loss of his stepfather, Charles Barkley found basketball and food, not necessarily in that order. He also quickly became known for not only what went into his mouth but for what came out of it. His greatest influence? His mother and granny, who always stood their ground. So when Charles signed with Auburn and quickly became known as "Boy Gorge" and "The Round Mound Of Rebound", Charcey defended her son. When Charles up and left the Auburn basketball team because he thought coach Sonny Smith was being too hard on him, it was Charcey who helped mend fences. And when Charles was cut from the 1984 United States Olympic basketball team for being too heavy (heck, he had dropped 16 pounds from that 300 pound frame to check in at a svelte 284 lbs), Charcey was there, backing her son's criticisms of coach Bobby Knight. And it didn't stop: Charcey had to listen to then Sixers GM Pat Williams utter upon Barkley's NBA signing, "Charles is so fat his bathtub has stretch marks." Fat jokes everywhere, Charcey advised her son to block them all out.

It's the late-80's now and Charles' bank account is as healthy as ever- he wants desperately to build his mother and granny a new house. Charcey would have none of it, telling her son she was comfortable where she was. Meeting halfway, Charles remodeled the Leeds house into a 5-bedroom compound complete with a satellite dish so the family could watch NBA games. Charcey would work at the Leeds High School cafeteria, she would volunteer for area organizations and soon find herself on the board of directors of the Leeds Waterworks Board. Charcey didn't want money from anyone- her pride would not allow it. Her pride also resulted in her being escorted out of a Leeds City Council meeting. Her take? She was asking a few too many questions about how a donation from Charles was being allocated.

Charcey Glenn was one of a kind: When her sons John and Darryl had their issues? She dealt with them. When she lost her beloved mother in 2009? She stood back up. And when her son Darryl underwent a heart transplant only to pass away in 2013? She marched on.

I had the pleasure of knowing a true MVP for 26 years. She was fiercely loyal, smart, witty and perhaps just as outspoken as her famous son. Charles Barkley has lost a special lady, and I've lost one of my favorite sports moms of all time. Rest in peace Charcey, you deserve it!

***A funeral service for Charcey Glenn will be held at 11 am this Saturday, June 27th at First Baptist Church of Leeds. The public is invited.

Copyright 2015 WBRC. All rights reserved.