Basketball Hall of Famer Wilt Chamberlain was an imposing figure on the court during his 15 NBA seasons, racking up mind-boggling numbers and tallying four Most Valuable Player awards, seven scoring titles, 13 All-Star selections and two NBA championships. He still holds the league record for career rebounds with 23,924.
But two numbers seem to follow Chamberlain's legacy no matter the conversation: 100 and 20,000.
Of course, the 100 refers to the number of points Chamberlain scored in a 169–147 win over the New York Knicks on March 2, 1962, in Hershey, Pa.
The other number refers to Chamberlain's off-the-court exploits, which he detailed in his 1991 biography A View From Above. In the book, Chamberlain claims he had slept with close to 20,000 women. (At the time, that averaged out to 1.2 women each and every day since he was 15).
This bring us to the story of 50-year-old San Francisco resident Aaron Levi, who says he believes that he is the biological child of Chamberlain. Chamberlain never married and, to anyone's knowledge, never had any children, either. Chamberlain died in 1999 at age 63 and took with him whatever secrets he had about that part of his life.
Chamberlain once said there would never be any "little Wilties," but Levi has spent the better part of a decade trying to find that missing piece of his life.
Levi contacted Gary M. Pomerantz, who wrote Wilt 1962 about that record-breaking game against the Knicks, wanting to tell his story and hopefully get some answers. Pomerantz details Levi's search in this week's Sports Illustrated.
Levi goes on to say that he was adopted and eventually found his birth mother, but attempts to prove he is Chamberlain's son have been thwarted, mostly by Chamberlain's living relatives.
"It's been a burden on me to feel that I am her secret," Levi says of his biological mother, "and I am Wilt's secret, and I am the Chamberlain's family secret."
Levi said he doesn't want any money from Chamberlain's estate. Chamberlain's long-time lawyer Sy Goldberg says that wouldn't happen anyway because "everything is gone."
As Chamberlain wrote in A View from Above: "Any idiot can father a child and too many of them do. I believe in adoption and doing as much as we can for the kids who are already here."
Those words, Levi says, were "painful" and will continue his journey with the hopes that he can finally solve the mystery and close that chapter of his life.
"I've got something between perfection—which would be total acceptance—and total rejection," he says. "...To be ignored is devastating."
For more on Chamberlain, check out Pomerantz's story in this week's Sports Illustrated (subscribe here).
Also in this issue are features on what's wrong with college basketball, Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray, an epidemic of sexual assault on college campuses and the Eastern Conference-leading Atlanta Hawks.
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