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“House Was Like Casino on the Weekend”: Young Charles Barkley’s Family Made and Sold Illegal Alcohol to Make Ends Meet

In his biography, Barkley, by Timothy Bella, NBA legend Charles Barkley revealed that his family ran a bootlegging business during the 1960s and the 70s to make ends meet.

According to the book, the Barkleys had been struggling to make ends meet back in the day, which led to the family opting for some unconventional and illegal solutions. The state of Alabama had an embargo on Alcohol from 1915, even before the country went dry.

When Prohibition ended in 1933, the state continued to remain dry for another 4 years, eventually leading to the rise of bootlegging as an alternate earning method. Barkley claimed that the other jobs members of his family did were not enough to cover the cost of living. This meant that the family house eventually resembled a casino in due time.

“‘How much money can you make working in a meatpacking factory? Or working as a maid? So, we sold alcohol,’ Barkley said. ‘The house was like a casino on the weekend. Guys would come on Friday and drink and gamble until Sunday,” the book reported.

What’s more, when Barkley’s mom was contacted to get her take on being outed as a bootlegger, she claimed that people already knew that. This was with respect to Barkley’s 2002 book, I May Be Wrong (But I Doubt It).

“Why the hell should I be embarrassed?…Everybody already knows I was a bootlegger…The ones reading the book came to the house and bought some whiskey. I did what I had to do to help my child,” Bella’s book quoted Charcey Glenn, Barkley’s mother.

Hence, while Barkley himself thought that his house resembled a casino, his mother had a different perspective. She simply did what she thought she was necessary for the well-being of her children. 

Charles Barkley’s mother had no regrets about her family’s bootlegging business

As it turns out, Chuck’s mom, Charcey Glenn, saw bootlegging as a necessary evil and claimed to have no regrets about her involvement. While alcohol has been one of the most common means of intoxication in America, it underwent a national prohibition from 1920 to 1933.

Even in the decades that followed, producing and selling alcohol was not an option available to most. Chuck was born in 1963 and spent the first few years of his life in Leeds, Alabama.


Regardless, while his family undoubtedly had to struggle initially, Barkley was eventually able to build a hugely successful career that immediately lifted them out of it. Barkley ended up at Auburn University, where he played for three years before eventually making his way to the NBA. Of course, today, with  a net worth of $50 million, nobody in Barkley’s family needs to do anything illegal anymore.

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