- GEN - Lee: 'That's all in the past'

Outside the Lines
Monday, June 4
Updated: June 5, 1:19 PM ET
Lee: 'That's all in the past'

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – He comes ambling – shuffling might be closer to the truth – across the parking lot at the Breath of Life Christian Academy, a leafy patch of land a few miles north of Memphis. Lee, still well shy of his 39th birthday, moves like a man decades older.

"I'm Keith," he says, extending a long arm and simultaneously narrowing his eyes.

Sixteen years ago it was Lee, an unnatural 6-foot-10 combination of power and finesse, who carried Memphis State – sometimes on his back. In his four seasons, from 1981-85, the Tigers were 104-24, appeared in four NCAA Tournaments and won the Metro Conference Tournament three times. No one left Memphis State, before or since, with greater bottom-line numbers – 2,408 points and 1,336 rebounds.

Lee was the No. 11 pick in the 1985 NBA Draft, the year the lottery was instituted. He averaged a modest 7.4 points and 6.1 rebounds as a rookie for the Cleveland Cavaliers, then his numbers slipped in his second season when his playing time was sliced nearly in half. A year later, after another unproductive season in New Jersey, leg injuries forced Lee to retire.

Today he works security at Breath of Life and is, appropriately, guarded when it comes to his playing days at Memphis State. Lee reportedly received $40,000 for staying home and playing with the Tigers and was at the center of the controversy that landed Memphis State on probation.

"I don't really have anything to say about all that," Lee says. "That's all in the past."

Still, he stops short of declining ESPN's request for an interview.

His celebrity has pretty much run its course. He starred in a local commercial for a potato chip company a few years back, but that was about it. He is absorbed in his son's career as a local high school basketball star; the only time Lee actually smiles is when he's talking about his boy.

A second visit results in a tentative yes, but a third degenerates into a tense discussion and a litany of excuses. Clearly, Lee isn't comfortable talking about the old days.

"Hey, I don't need this," he says finally, walking away. "I don't need this."

Greg Garber is a senior writer for

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