Shelly Sterling: Where is Donald Sterling’s Wife Now?

In FX on Hulu’s sports drama series ‘Clipped,’ Rochelle “Shelly” Sterling is the wife of Donald Sterling and the “silent” co-owner of the Los Angeles Clippers. Even though the world knows her as Donald’s wife, the public is not familiar with her part and influence in the day-to-day operation of the NBA team. In reality, Shelly dealt with a tumultuous period after her husband’s alleged racist remarks were leaked through the latter’s assistant, V. Stiviano, and TMZ. The incident had several consequences in Shelly’s life, including her separation from her beloved team as an owner. Still, she continues to be a part of the Clippers family!

Shelly Sterling’s Life: Before and After the Scandal

Born on September 2, 1934, in Wilmington, California, Shelly Sterling met Donald Sterling while they were attending Theodore Roosevelt High School in Los Angeles, California. She was one of the cheerleaders of the school, while Donald was a part of the institution’s gymnastics team. They got married in 1955. Shelly and Donald built a business empire in Los Angeles’ real-estate scene. What started from a 26-unit apartment building in Beverly Hills grew impressively. Ramona Shelburne’s ‘The Sterling Affairs,’ the source podcast of ‘Clipped,’ describes the couple as “the largest residential landlords in LA County” in their heyday.

Image Credit: Associated Press/YouTube

When Donald bought the Clippers, Shelly became the co-owner. She also served as one of the two alternate governors of the NBA team. The couple had three children together: Scott, Chris, and Joanna. Even though they managed the team together, the togetherness the duo shared during the first few decades of their marriage didn’t last during the late 1990s or early 2000s. “In the last 20 years, he [Donald] has been more difficult and just had different girlfriends, which I didn’t realize at that time because I was raising my kids,” Shelly told The New York Times in 2014.

“When you’re married to somebody, and you are involved with work and your children, and taking care of your parents, life is so complicated. And then all of a sudden, you realize that this is not going to work,” Shelly added. The relationship between her and Donald became further complicated when V. Stiviano turned out to be an unignorable part of the latter’s life. The press alleged that she was the businessman’s supposed girlfriend or mistress. The scandal concerning Donald’s racist remarks followed. Shelly didn’t hesitate to condemn her husband’s words. “When those tapes came out, I was disgusted. I was sick over it. I mean, I couldn’t believe it,” she said in the same interview.

Shelly Sterling’s Sale of the Clippers

The scandal involving Donald Sterling and V. Stiviano paved the way for the NBA’s lifetime ban of the former. He couldn’t remain the owner of the Clippers, which meant that Shelly Sterling had to sell the team. She was very hesitant about parting ways with the establishment she built and looked after for decades. “I didn’t do anything wrong. Why should I suffer and lose my team? I would like it to be left as a legacy to my family, and I’ve helped build it. I just can’t see me not owning it, or a piece of it,” Shelly said in the interview given to The New York Times. Despite her wishes to continue running the team, she ultimately had to sell the basketball franchise.

In 2014, Shelly sold the Clippers to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer for $2 billion. In addition to the hefty sum, she was officially recognized as the “Owner Emeritus” and “Clippers’ Number 1 Fan.” The deal also included ten tickets for all Clippers games and two courtside tickets for all games in Los Angeles, among many other benefits. Even though Shelly is not officially an owner of the team, she is a co-chair of a charitable foundation that was created as part of the deal. The sale of the Clippers was followed by Donald filing for divorce from Shelly, citing “irreconcilable differences.”

Donald and Shelly Sterling Are Still Together

At the time, Shelly also revealed that she had been considering separating from Donald. “I’ve considered it a lot for the last 20 years. Right now, we [Donald and Shelly] are estranged. I live in one house, and he lives somewhere else. It’s been like that for a little over a year,” she said in The New York Times interview. “My son died about a year ago, and that was one of the things that came between us. I mean, he’s never been a real husband as far as being with the kids. And there are many issues,” she added, referring to Scott’s death due to an accidental narcotic drug overdose. However, a year later, they decided not to move forward with the divorce.

“I can confirm that the divorce has been dismissed and that the Sterlings have resolved their marital differences,” said Donald Sterling’s attorney, Bobby Samini, said in a statement given to Forbes. In 2017, Shelly put three of her properties on the market for rent. The three houses are the 1930s Monterey Colonial in Beverly Hills, the 3,192-square-foot Traditional in Beverly Hills, and the 1920s Mediterranean duplex in the Mid-City region. After working on her marriage with Donald, Shelly has been trying to convince the NBA to lift the lifetime ban on her husband.

“I couldn’t understand the severity of the ban. It just seemed a little bit out of line,” Shelly said about the ban, as per NBC News. “I have talked to [the NBA] several times, and I don’t know what they will do. Maybe they will, and maybe they won’t [lift the ban]. Maybe it takes a little bit more time,” she added. Despite Donald’s initial disagreements concerning the sale of his team, he eventually accepted the same. “He [Donald] is happy about selling the team now. Yes. He tells a lot of people. He says, ‘You know, I had to sell the team, but I feel like I fell off a tree and I landed on a pile of gold,’” Shelly said, as per ‘The Sterling Affairs.’

With the assured tickets, Shelly continues to watch the Clippers now. Even though she is not a frequent face in the spotlight nowadays, she is still a part of the Clippers family. In 2022, she was spotted in Malibu, California, with Donald. Since the businessman has a residence in the region, the couple must be currently staying in the beach city.

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