Marvin Jerome Barnes (July 27, 1952 – September 8, 2014) was an American professional basketball player. As a 6'8" forward, Barnes played at Providence College. In 1973, he was the first player to score 10 times on 10 field goal attempts in the NCAA playoffs, and remains tied for second behind Kenny Walker, who went 11-for-11 in 1986. He led the nation in rebounding in 1973-74. On December 15, 1973, Barnes scored 52 points against Austin Peay, breaking the single-game school record. He was drafted by the Philadelphia 76ers with the second overall pick in the first round of the 1974 NBA Draft and by the Spirits of St. Louis in the 1974 ABA Draft. Barnes opted for the ABA and played for the Spirits in the American Basketball Association from 1974 to 1976 before playing in the National Basketball Association from 1976 to 1980. He had his greatest success in the ABA, where he starred for the Spirits and was named Rookie of the Year for the 1974–75 season. He also shares the ABA record for most two-point field goals in a game, with 27. In 2005, the ABA 2000, the second incarnation of the ABA, named one of their divisions after him.
His nickname, "Bad News," came from his frequent off-court problems, which began when he was a senior at Central High School. He was part of a gang that attempted to rob a bus. He was quickly identified as he was wearing his state championship jacket with his name embroidered on it. His case was handled by the juvenile justice system. In 1972, while playing center for Providence College, he attacked a teammate with a tire iron. He later pled guilty to assault, paid the victim $10,000 and was placed on probation. He violated probation in October 1976 when an unloaded gun was found in his bag at the Detroit Metropolitan Airport, and served 152 days in Rhode Island state prison. Upon release he returned to the Detroit Pistons. He was arrested for burglary, drug possession, and trespassing. Because of his drug use, his NBA career was cut short and he wound up homeless in San Diego, California in the early 1980s. After multiple rehab programs, he started reaching out to youth in South Providence, where he grew up, urging them not to make the same mistakes he had.
In March 2008, Providence College retired his jersey, honoring him along with Ernie DiGregorio and Jimmy Walker. He still co-holds (since tied by MarShon Brooks) the school single-game scoring record of 52 points. On September 8, 2014, Barnes died at the age of 62.
By Dean Hanley
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