Ex-NBA wife: Life changed from Cinderella to abuse victim

admin | 12/7/2011, 8 a.m.

When Sherri Patterson was growing up in Overtown and matriculating at Miami Senior High School, she says she had dreams of being swept off her feet by a handsome, Black Prince Charming. And while she did fall in love with her high school sweetheart, a star on the schools basketball team, her life soon took a drastic turn for the worst. She would have the first of three children in her teen years, all before marriage, and remain committed to Doug Edwards as he played college basketball and was then selected for the NBA. But as she shares in her new release and memoir, Mad Lyfe of an NBA Wife, her journey was far from fairytale-perfect. "Long before we said I do . . . there were 12 years of hellified drama,"she said. "All relationships are bound to have some rough times and we had some small fights but after we finally got married that's when the violence began. He had one foot in and out of the NBA because of an injury and related stress, he wasn't prepared for life after the game. He took his anger out on us. He abused me in all kinds of ways but he never physically abused the children. But they were scarred too because they saw what he was doing to me." Patterson, 38, says she woke up one day and decided she had had enough. "I tried to talk to some of the NBA wives but all they wanted to do was to spend their men's money," she said. "We were never into that kind of life and I wasn't raised to be materialistic. My grandfather was a pioneer in Overtown and one of the first barbers, my dad was a policeman, my mom was an educator. I knew nothing about that pro-sports world. And I really knew nothing about how to handle domestic violence." Patterson says she moved forward, got her education and became a registered nurse for the safe of her children. Eventually she was able to forgive her ex-husband and today they are able to talk when necessary but always about the children. "I lost so many friends along the way who thought I was crazy for not staying in the marriage with all of the money and trips and stuff, she said. "How could I tell them that I was losing myself? I wanted to be my own person and it was hard to climb over his shoulders. When I left with the children, it was like a caged bird that was suddenly set free." Patterson now talks to young women and men about domestic violence and seeks to empower those who are facing what she once endured. "Many tell me that my book or my speeches give them strength to fight back and to demand an end to the abuse," she said. "I remind them that I am just an ordinary person who did what she had to do to survive. I didn't need a frying pan to get even I just moved on." By D. Kevin McNeir kmcneir@miamitimesonline.com