MANILA, Philippines - After overstaying in his Manila visit for over a year, PBA Hall of Famer and NBA cult icon Billy Ray Bates is finally leaving town on a Philippine Airlines flight to Los Angeles tonight. He’ll be escorted to the plane by PBA licensing manager Rhose Montreal and Bureau of Immigration agents.
Bates, 56, came here from New Jersey in September 2011 on the PBA’s invitation to receive his Hall of Fame award. He was supposed to stay for less than a week – four days and four nights, to be exact – but as his round-ticket provided by the PBA was open-ended, decided to hang around. Bates even got a contract to work as a skills coach with the ABL team Philippine Patriots and received a reported P1 million from Grosby Shoes for the relaunch of the Black Superman model.
The Patriots released Bates last February for disciplinary reasons and he frittered away whatever money went to his bank account. Without a place to stay, Bates moved in with a woman from Bicol in a San Pedro, Laguna, home where his friend Jimmy Fojas’ mother and brother live. Fojas works in San Francisco with a biotechnology company and is a long-time PBA fan who keeps in touch with former league imports like Bates and Donnie Ray Koonce. Bates wore out his welcome in the Fojas home, running up huge power and food bills. He eventually left after a spat with Fojas’ brother who only sought to relieve his aging mother of the stress of coping with the visitor.
Last September, a drunken Bates was arrested by police for throwing a rock at a car in a dawn incident in Cubao. He was released after the car owner opted not to press charges then went somewhere in Bicol with his girlfriend. Bates reappeared in Willie Revillame’s TV show last December begging for the popular host to cough up some money from his foundation. Bates said he needed money to go back to the US for a hip operation and would return to Manila in April.
It wasn’t certain if Bates received anything from Revillame but the PBA came to his rescue by paying for a one-way ticket to Los Angeles amounting to over $1,100. The PBA had paid for his round-trip ticket but the return leg was voided after the period of use expired. Last Wednesday, Bates went to the MOA Arena to meet with Montreal and find out the details of his departure.
“Bates was living somewhere in San Andres with his girlfriend,” said Montreal. “He didn’t want to go back to his home in New Jersey because he claimed he was filing a divorce from his wife. Bates mentioned he received assistance from the NBA in the form of health insurance for his hip surgery in Los Angeles. He has no money. Out of my own pocket, I’ve given him over P1,000 to pay for his taxi fares. I don’t know where his money went. I was informed he received P1 million for the relaunch of his Black Superman shoes.”
Montreal said she will personally escort Bates to the airplane with Bureau of Immigration agents. They will meet in a 7-11 store in San Andres before motoring to the airport. Since he never extended his stay beyond the allowable three months with the Bureau of Immigration, Bates must pay a penalty of over P10,000 which Montreal said the PBA will pick up.
Losing his money on drinking sprees and wild nights, Bates often badgered former PBA imports Norman Black and Bobby Parks for assistance. He would go to the Moro Lorenzo Center at Loyola Heights to ask Black for money during a Talk ‘N’ Text or Ateneo practice. Bates relied on his friends and fans for his subsistence. He could’ve established himself as a professional skills coach if only he didn’t report for work with the Patriots reportedly smelling of liquor and hardly able to walk straight. It didn’t help that while staying at an Eastwood condo provided by the Patriots, Bates was linked to a scandalous incident involving a transvestite he had mistaken for a woman and brought to his unit.
“I don’t know if his wife Beverly has been told of Billy’s plan to file a divorce,” said Montreal. Beverly stood by Bates during his years in prison for robbing a gasoline station attendant and throughout his rehabilitation from an addiction to alcohol and drugs. When he arrived here, Bates declared he had changed. “I want to be a role model for kids,” he said. “I’ve matured, I’ve changed. I’ve gone through good and bad times. My Filipino fans have never turned their back on me. I want to show my appreciation. I want to give back to them.” Unfortunately, Bates has not learned from the lessons of a stormy life.