Tito Maddox is watching the O.J. Mayo saga unfold, “stunned by the parallel” of reports illustrating allegations that cash and gifts prohibited by college rules were funneled to the NBA-bound college star.
“Same story, same guy,” Maddox, 26, said Monday in front of his Carson home.
Maddox was talking about Los Angeles events promoter Rodney Guillory, whom Maddox said he was befriended by in the summer of 1998, just before his senior year at Compton High.
Guillory faces allegations that he provided Mayo cash, meals, clothes, a flat-screen television, cellphone service and other services on behalf of Bill Duffy Associates Sports Management, the agency the top guard prospect recently announced would represent him as he turned pro.
The allegations were made by former associate Louis Johnson on a segment of ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” broadcast Sunday. Johnson said Guillory received about $200,000 and a sports utility vehicle from BDA, sharing an estimated $30,000 of what he received with Mayo.
For Maddox, it was a story that rang all too familiar.
“He was working for some agents, talking about what they can do for me and what I need,” Maddox recalled of his first meetings with Guillory.
“I was just trying to help my family.”
Maddox added, “He seemed cool, he seemed like he had my best interests at heart. We’d go out to eat around some games, he’d be at my practices, he’d come over to my house. . . . Just being around him, spending time with him, he won my trust.”
Maddox went on to play at Fresno State, and his relationship with Guillory forced his college team to suffer through a self-imposed two-year probation and lose three scholarships in December 2002 after Maddox revealed to the Fresno Bee that he had accepted illegal benefits.
Elaborating Monday, Maddox, who along with his wife and two children resides in a modest single-story home, said his involvement with Guillory serves as a cautionary tale to young athletes whose families are struggling financially.
“You’ve got to watch out for snakes, the people who try to steer you toward others so they can make money. Watch the fast-talkers,” he said.
Maddox said his paths crossed with Guillory at a time when his mother, Gloria, was raising him and his three younger siblings in a single-parent Compton home.
“She was struggling to make ends meet,” he said.
Maddox was suspended for the first eight games of the 2000 season after he admitted that Guillory provided him and then-USC forward Jeff Trepagnier with airline tickets to meet with Las Vegas-based agents Ron and Ken Delpit of Franchise Sports. Guillory attended the meeting, Maddox said.
“We stayed at their home; Rodney wanted me to see what they had to offer,” Maddox said. “They wanted me to sign something before I left, saying they’d represent me after college. Same with Jeff.”
Trepagnier, now playing in a professional league in France, was briefly suspended by USC in December 2000.
Said Maddox: “That’s why I can’t believe USC let this guy [Guillory] come back around after our trouble.”
Maddox said his unfamiliarity with NCAA rules led him to ask the Delpits, “What can they do to help my family?”
“They let me know they could help me, they put it out there on the table: ‘If you come with us, we can help your mom, brothers and sister with whatever they need,’ ” he recalled. “That’s all I cared about. I didn’t know the rules then, and of course they didn’t explain it.”
Attempts to reach Guillory and the Delpits on Monday were unsuccessful.
Maddox said a family member of the Delpits delivered Gloria Maddox a newer-model Nissan Altima during the 2000-01 school year, and that he received a 1997 Ford Explorer.
Cash payments were delivered in envelopes to him at Fresno State, Maddox said, and to his mother -- sometimes hand-delivered by Guillory -- at her home.
“Rodney was the middleman,” Maddox said. “We’d get $1,500 every month for about a year and a half. Almost $30,000.”
Maddox also attended a Lakers game courtesy of the Delpits, he said. Similarly, Mayo while at USC was ordered to repay to charity the ticket price of a Lakers ticket he received from Carmelo Anthony, a Duffy-represented NBA player.
Maddox, in his only college season, was the Western Athletic Conference’s freshman of the year, averaging 13.5 points and eight assists. But he boarded another illegally paid-for flight to visit his girlfriend in El Paso in 2001 and Fresno State ruled he would be ineligible for the 2001-02 season. Maddox opted to declare for the 2002 draft.
Before being selected 38th overall by the Houston Rockets, he dumped the Delpits in favor of another agent.
“No one had heard of them,” Maddox explained. “I believed they couldn’t do me any service at all. No GM was going to be listening to them.
“Rodney was pretty upset. . . . On the phone he told me, ‘You’re making a mistake. They can get you where you need to go, and you can’t get there by yourself.’ But honestly, I had heard so many bad things about them I wasn’t even worried about it.”
Maddox was in the NBA only one season, collecting a salary estimated at $300,000 and playing a high of 11 minutes in one game.
He was cut the next year by the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Last July, he was forced to undergo surgery to remove a cancerous brain tumor. He’s now cancer-free, he said, and would like to get back in shape and play professionally again.
“I just needed to be more patient,” he said of his shortened college and professional careers, “and understand you’ve got to pay your dues.”