Supreme Bey wakes up every morning, smokes a joint, eats a “s**tload of fruit” — some honeydew or papaya — hops on his skateboard and heads towards the south mountains in Arizona, where he occasionally records himself on Snapchat. He stands on his skateboard in his black and white “Heartthrob Club” checkered pants, positions the phone below his waist and points the camera towards his golden dreads.
His daily routine is much different now than it was in 2015 — when he was acquired by Doc Rivers to fortify the Los Angeles Clippers’ bench, which was among the worst in the NBA.
Bey hasn’t touched a basketball since he agreed to a multi-year deal with the New Orleans Pelicans on Sept. 18, 2015 and was waived just over a month later. And he plans on never touching one again, unless his son asks him to play.
To outsiders — NBA pundits and fans alike — Bey’s career appears to have ended prematurely. Despite hopping around the league and searching for a permanent home – Bey played for the New Jersey Nets, Milwaukee Bucks, Charlotte Hornets and Clippers – he had an opportunity to continue chasing another NBA contract. As a 6-foot-7, versatile scorer entering the prime of his career, all Bey needed to do to earn himself some job security was to be himself — a long defender capable of knocking down open 3s.
But if you ask Bey — formerly Chris Douglas-Roberts, which he now considers a misnomer — he’d say his career ended exactly when the universe wanted it to end: early, so he could begin the odyssey into self-exploration and entrepreneurship, an odyssey that might make the average person — or “star seed,” as he calls them — question his decision making, and, his sanity.
The conventional — boring, suit-wearing, PR-trained — athlete is now the one that sticks out in professional locker rooms. In 2015, right when Bey exited the league, LeBron James — wearing a hat Pharrell certainly has in his closet and a striped Where’s Waldo-type t-shirt — hosted the NBA’s first All-Star fashion show. NBA players have embraced “new age” thinking, unapologetically wearing what some deem to be bizarre clothing and advocating for alternative diets, like veganism.
When Bey was in the league, though, and told people he was going vegan in 2013 — eating nothing but fruit — his peers considered him someone too odd to fit in. The catered food after games — the chicken that athletes devour for protein — didn’t fit his diet and Bey needed substitutes.
“Then, [being vegan] was taboo,” Bey said in a phone interview with The Step Back. “If you’re an athlete, you’re expected to eat meat — protein, without knowing there’s other ways to get protein. It’s ignorance, at the end of the day. People say s**t without knowing the origins. But now that it’s becoming mainstream, I’m happy as hell. You can’t be successful if you’re not healthy, period. Health is what drove me.”
Rockin’ the oddball scarlet letter on his shooting sleeve, Bey continued to dedicate all of his time to basketball. He did thousands of burpees, lifted dumbbells on the incline machine and took hundreds of shots daily just to keep up with everyone else.
“Who do you want to define you — someone else or yourself?” Bey said in a YouTube show that he recorded to document his career, called DCTG (Don’t Cheat the Grind) The Series.
As he did that, his life became monotonous — the schedule, the practices and the games were too regular.
“A lot of the things I’m saying — when people read it, it’s going to sound insane,” Bey said. “But it’s just my truth. I know the s**t I say isn’t typical. I know what you’re thinking. My DNA was changing in the NBA — I was going through rebirths. I became more caring and compassionate. S**t that used to matter doesn’t matter anymore. I started seeing people suffering all over the world. It just got to a point when I couldn’t ignore it. It was within me. It’s a rebirth. The old person — my 3-D self — is dead.”
“This isn’t some superhero s**t, but in a way it is. I feel like Captain Planet sometimes.”
Bey wanted to leave an impression on the game, so he started wearing shorter basketball shorts than his peers. He died his hair, grew it out and wore glasses on the court. He started calling himself the Wave God and developed his own clothing line — DCTG Sportswear. He noted how players today have mimicked his style. Washington Wizards forward Kelly Oubre, who calls himself Wave Papi and wears shorts above his knees, comes to mind.
At night, after clocking out on the court, Bey had issues with night paralysis. He began feeling himself wanting more out of life than just basketball.
“We grow out of s**t,” Bey said. “I’ve been hooping for so long I didn’t want to do it anymore. I wanted to be a solo act. I didn’t want to be under any jurisdiction. I wanted to be myself completely. I felt like I grew out of basketball.”
Earning over $3 million in his playing career over the course of six years, per Basketball Reference, Bey’s playing days were always surrounded by uncertainty. His NBA career was at the mercy of higher-ups – general managers who naturally have biases – and he wanted total control over his life, even if it meant losing his agent Leon Rose and Anthony Jones, a close friend who also managed his basketball commitments.
He told his wife and mom — the people who saw him make it out of Detroit’s west side — that it was over. They knew it was coming – they could sense the lack of excitement in the tone of his voice when he spoke about the game.
“They have to be supportive because it’s not looking bad,” Bey said. “I’m looking better than ever now. My life is better now than when I was playing. They were on board. When they looked into my eyes and saw that I wasn’t heartbroken and had no resentment towards basketball, they said they trusted me. I’ve earned trust through my actions and the responsibilities, and integrities I’ve had. I have two babies. I can’t make careless decisions. Everything I do is calculated, precise and thought out.”
Bey saw other players who were in similar situations sign short-term deals with NBA teams and become shackled by anxiety because basketball was their only means to an end.
So when teams called this past summer, both from the NBA and overseas, Bey told them that he wasn’t interested — a move he wouldn’t have been able to imagine not too long ago.
“It’s no disrespect to those [guys] playing now,” Bey said. “I didn’t want to just be like that. I want to be iconic. I want to do things that leave a mark. I want to help people and wanted them to remember me for how I effected their lives. I want people to know how I change things.
“I’m a being of light, love and knowledge. Before, it was just a body and a voice.”
“I just was done. After I played in Charlotte, it was different. I don’t want this to be me versus basketball, because it was just me not wanting to do it anymore. I can still be playing — be working out and doing all of those things, but I just don’t want to anymore. I know this is a rare case and that’s why people say, ‘basketball was done with him.’ It was all me. I have no hard feelings with basketball. I just don’t want to do it anymore.”
With every direct message on Instagram questioning his choice, Bey became more in-tune with himself — his true self, a Moor, Supreme Bey, which translates to law enforcer, he said.
“I’ve been Supreme,” Bey said. “This is who I was before I got here. Supreme is my true self. [CDR] was just someone who I was until I discovered myself. Now, this is my soul speaking. I’m a being of light, love and knowledge. Before, it was just a body and a voice. We’re souls. This body is just a vessel we use for this time being on this planet.
“Now, when I speak, the nature and the whole universe responds because there’s no blockage. I carry a high-dimension frequency. It’s my highest being. [CDR] served its purpose, but I just no longer carry that energy or frequency. I’m only interested in enjoying myself, love and creating. Every minute should be enjoyable in life. I have a clear mind and view on life. Once I got this clarity, I was able to access the memory we come here with. I’m disciplined mentally. I’ve disciplined my inner nature. I have control over my thoughts. I create my own reality. I’m vibrating with an unconditional love. It’s Supreme s**t. I’ve obtained self-mastery.”
Bey still talks to some of his old teammates. He watches Derrick Rose’s highlights with the Cleveland Cavaliers to see how he’s performing (he played with Rose at the University of Memphis). But his interest in the game is practically nonexistent — like an old toy he used to play with as a child that doesn’t stimulate him anymore.
“When I’m done with it, I’m done,” Bey said. “That s**t is old to me. It doesn’t interest me. I have a lot of s**t in front of me. I’m not one of those guys trying to get back. When you see them, you just feel so bad for them. Like, damn — you’re 40 and this is all you know, all you want to do. I’m never going to be like that. That’s old to me. My future is beautiful with that behind me.”
Bey recently started his own agency — DCTG Media Agency — to assist athletes and entrepreneurs who experience relatable shifts in interest.
“I want to be iconic. I want to do things that leave a mark.”
As an NBA player, he saw people lose their careers and their purpose with it. It was basketball — and nothing else. When the devastating call came from the general manager and the players had no other source of revenue, they turned to desperate measures, sometimes selling their valuable memorabilia and personal collectables. Bey said he saw others — young, naïve players — become victims of money-hungry management.
“What are we doing to prevent that?” Bey said. “I was never just blindly trusting people to handle my money or to speak for me. I never felt overwhelmed, even if I didn’t know something. A motherf*****r couldn’t just tell me what it was. I wanted to know more. I was willing to study. I was always into other s**t. I was doing things. I had my eye on other things. I invested to Netflix a long time ago, before it was popping. I was always doing other s**t. You hear the horror stories and see it. I hate seeing that. They lost their purpose. But it’s not their fault. You go from nothing to something overnight with nothing in-between. You’re not prepared to handle your money and think you need to hire people to do this s**t. You never know what’s happening with your own estate. It’s always something, selling championship rings and s**t.
“My main purpose in life is to raise humanity,” Bey said. “This isn’t some superhero s**t, but in a way it is. I feel like Captain Planet sometimes.”
Bey recognizes the curious nature of his life — how some may think he’s using this as a gimmick to cope with loss or that, to put it bluntly, he’s lost his mind altogether.
And when I asked him that question — whether he was done with basketball or basketball was done with him — he answered with a 20-minute response. Then he followed up with another voice message, recorded outside, as evidenced by the birds chirping.
“That was my 9-to-5,” Bey said. “I had to get out of my 9-to-5 to do something to be me — the whole me. It wasn’t always like that, but that’s what it became. It’s just like anyone who moves away from something they used to do for a better opportunity.
“I’m the boss of my life. I run my s**t. I run my life how I want. I’m not just a basketball player anymore. My purpose is bigger than one thing. With basketball, I just felt like I was confined — at some points trapped. You can’t do and say certain things. I didn’t want my life to be like that. I’m a free spirit. I don’t want anybody managing me. I was growing larger than the dimensions I was in.”