Erin and Brent Barry could have kept their separation under the radar, even if they hadn’t filed their petitions with their initials only. Although Barry holds an NBA record as the second father-son duo to win an NBA Championship (his father is Hall of Famer Rick Barry), the San Antonio Spurs point guard had left basketball in October 2009, just about a year before filing divorce papers.
But the 22-year marriage unraveled, and, according to Barry’s dad, his daughter-in-law was the one who wanted out. Erin Barry allegedly began boosting her ego by sexting her old friend Tony Parker — without the knowledge of her husband or Tony’s wife, Eva Longoria Parker.
Parker and Barry had been Spurs teammates, and the foursome were pals: The Barrys attended the Parkers’ idyllic French chateau wedding, where Barry declared they were “like family.” Erin even contributed a guest spot in a playful “Grease” lip-sync video, meant to inspire Spurs fans to do their own — although in an ironic forecasting of things to come, Erin-as-Rizzo shoved Eva-as-Sandy off a bench.
The glare of the Parkers’ high-profile divorce in November shone a bright light on the Barrys’ low-key parting. Reporters clamored to speak with Erin, the mother of two, who tearfully stuck to “no comment.” Later the tone turned defiant, when she broke her silence on her charity Website: “I am so busy with my children and law school studies that to take even a few moments out of my day to address this ludicrous issue is an annoyance. I only take the time to explain myself because apparently my silence, as a result of my indifference, has been construed as an admission of guilt.”
Barry denied the affair (and, by all accounts, there wasn’t anything physical), but she made no denial or even any reference to text messages. “I pride myself on being a Mom first, an advocate for abused children second, and a law student third,” she wrote, before turning the announcement into a pitch for abused children.
It’s a strange place to be in, for a woman who worked as an advocate for abused children, first as a caseworker and then as a political lobbyist. According to an interview with San Antonio Woman magazine, Barry — an adopted child herself — was deeply drawn to the issue of helping the neglected, and her work helped pass the Senate Bill 6 in Texas, which called for reform in Child Protective Services.
And the divorce is curious as well: Erin Barry picked up and followed her high school sweetheart through five different teams. (Well, almost high school sweetheart: He attended an all-boys Catholic school; she attended the all-girls school across the street.) A year after he was done with the NBA, she moved out.
In their years together, Erin did a lot of charity work and pulled her husband in as often as possible, using his status to get more attention for worthy causes. She told San Antonio Woman, “A lot of families in this business want their privacy and prefer to keep a low profile. …The way I see it, Brent’s been in the NBA for 11 years. I need to do all I can now to get him out there to as many events as possible while people still recognize his name.”
Now her name’s known too.
–Vera H-C Chan