Disgraced Clippers owner Donald Sterling does not believe that his girlfriend, V. Stiviano, released the tape that captured him making a series of racist remarks that led to his lifetime ban from the NBA.
Making his first public statements in the 16 days since the racially-charged audio leaked, Sterling apologized for his comments in an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper and said that he was “asking for forgiveness.”
Asked specifically about Stiviano, the 80-year-old Sterling broke down in tears, painting her as a "good person" that he cared about, while also pointing out her disadvantaged background.
"She's a good person, she's a beautiful person," Sterling said. "There's 15 of her, 15 children, 15 Hispanic kids, sisters and brothers (in her family), and she supports them all. Perhaps she's made some mistakes. I thought she cared for me. I was stupid. How could a girl care for a man 51 years older? She wouldn't release those tapes. She's not a bad person.
"She has to survive. She's a street person, but inside she's a good person. But she's not relevant to this conversation. I don't know why she did what she did, I wish God would tell me. But whatever she did good or bad, I'm the guilty one for uttering those terrible ugly words I don't mean."
"I made such a mistake," he told CNN. "I thought that woman really cared for me. but thank God, this has all come to the light, because it could have been worse. I don't know what she wants, I don't know how it happened."
Sterling also told CNN that he believed Stiviano "baited" him into making the comments.
"I don’t know why the girl had me say those things," he said. "Yes, I was baited. That’s not the way I talk. ... When I listen to that tape I don’t even know how I could say words like that. I’m not a racist. I love people. ... An 80-year-old man is kind of foolish, and I’m kind of foolish. I thought she liked me and really cared for me. I guess being 50 years older than her, I was deluding myself."
In comments that leaked out last week, Sterling allegedly admitted that "jealousy" fueled his initial comments about Johnson and other African-Americans.
"[Stiviano] is black. I like her. I’m jealous that she’s with other black guys. I want her," Sterling allegedly said, according to RadarOnline.com. "I never thought a private conversation would go anywhere out to the public. ... I didn’t want her to bring anybody to my game because I was jealous. I mean, I’m being honest."