Telfair was drafted by the Blazers with the No. 13 pick in the 2004 NBA draft.

By Michael Shapiro
May 01, 2019

Sebastian Telfair became a national sensation in 2004 when he appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated as a high school phenom from Lincoln High School in Brooklyn. But the New Yorker's past 15 years have been a far cry from his feel-good cover appearance.

Telfair was arrested on gun charges in June 2017 and is now facing up to 15 years in prison after being convicted for felony possession of a weapon in April. The NYC point guard logged stops with eight NBA teams (along with a short stint in China) between his cover appearance and recent conviction, marking one of the strangest paths of any lottery pick in recent memory. 

So how did Telfair go from first-rounder to upcoming prison inmate? We charted his fall from grace below:

March 2004 – Sports Illustrated cover appearance

Telfair became just the 10th high school athlete to ever appear on the SI cover – just two years after LeBron James graced the cover during his time at St. Vincent-St. Mary. He was already a household name by the time of his cover appearance, as noted by SI's Chris Ballard. 

"Telfair has posed for magazine covers, hung with Derek Jeter and Jay-Z and played on ESPN2, making him basketball's second-most-hyped high schooler ever, behind his friend LeBron James," Ballard wrote. "The scrutiny has been even more intense because of where he plays--in the media capital of the world--and because of his royal bloodlines: His cousin is the reigning King of New York Point Guards, Stephon Marbury of the New York Knicks. And in June, Telfair could become the first point guard to jump directly from high school to the NBA."

June 2004 – Drafted No. 13 overall by Blazers

The diminutive point guard slid to No. 13 on draft night but still landed inside the lottery when Portland selected him No. 13. Telfair was selected two picks before Al Jefferson and four slots before Andre Iguodala.

June 2006 – Traded to Boston

A draft-night trade sent Telfair to the Celtics, but a change of scenery couldn't boost his performance. Telfair averaged just 6.1 points per game in one season with the Celtics before joining the Timberwolves in 2007. 

October 2006 – Robbed in New York

Telfair's $50,000 chain was robbed outside a club owned by Sean "Diddy" Combs in Manhattan prior to the shooting of rapper Fabolous on the same evening. Telfair denied any relation between the two incidents. 

"I wasn't being investigated for any shooting," Telfair told reporters at the Celtics' practice facility. "My necklace was snatched from my neck."

April 2007 – Arrested at a traffic stop, received felony weapons charge

Telfair's first noted run-in with the law came less than a year after the incident at Diddy's club. Telfair was stopped for driving over the speed limit with a suspended license. Police then searched his car and found a handgun under the passenger's seat. 

He pleaded guilty to criminal possession of a weapon in September 2008, receiving a three-game suspension from the NBA. 

October 2013 – Telfair heads to China

Six NBA teams in a five-year stretch sent Telfair packing to China where he signed with the CBA's Tianjin Ronggang. The stint was a relative success as Telfair signed a one-year deal with the Thunder in July 2014. 

Telfair played in just 16 games with OKC, ending his NBA career in 2014. 

June 2017 – Arrested during a traffic stop

Police found a slate of weapons in Telfair's car, including "three loaded pistols, a gas-operated submachine gun, ammunition, extended magazine, and a ballistic vest," according to the New York Post

April 2019 – Convicted on weapons charge

Telfair was convicted of the felony weapons charges on April 24, and he now faces 15 years in jail. 

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