Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling’s confidante V. Stiviano today told ABC’s Barbara Walters that she thinks the embattled NBA basketball owner should apologize for his racist remarks.
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"Yes. Absolutely,” Stiviano, 31, said when Walters asked her during an exclusive television interview in Los Angeles.
"I think he’s highly more traumatized and hurt by the things that he said himself,” she added. “I think he can’t even believe or understand sometimes the thing he says, and I think he’s hurt by it. He’s hurting right now."
Asked if she thought he would go through with a public apology, Stiviano replied: “God only knows.”
This is the first television interview for Stiviano since the NBA handed Sterling a lifetime ban and a $2.5 million fine on Tuesday for his racial remarks about African-Americans featured in a leaked audiotape recording.
Prior to this interview with ABC News, Stiviano had been seen in public wearing a large visor over her face, which she said made it “easier to mask the pain."
The interview comes a week after TMZ released the audio recordings, which subsequently launched the league investigation that led to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver to ban Sterling for life. The NBA Board of Governors will vote on whether Sterling will be forced to sell the team.
One of the mysteries surrounding the situation is how the audio recordings came to light. Stiviano, who was on the receiving end of Sterling’s rant on the leaked tapes and describes herself as black and Mexican, told Walters she did record their conversations, and shared them with friends. Stiviano said a friend leaked the audio.
But, she said, this rant -- in which Sterling told Stiviano not to “promote” her relationship with black people or “bring them to my games,” -- "was not the first time” they had these conversations.
“There’s been a number of occasions where Mr. Sterling and I had conversations just like this one. This was one of very many,” she said. “Part of what the world heard was only 15 minutes. There’s a number of other hours that the world doesn’t know.”
Stiviano denied having a romantic relationship with Sterling, saying she is his personal assistant and sees Sterling as “a father figure” -- calling herself his "silly rabbit." She claims that people around Sterling would say negative things about her to him, saying they “poison his mind and heart about things about me,” which would drive him to say certain things.
Despite the controversy around his comments, she said he is not a racist.
“I think Mr. Sterling is from a different generation than I am. I think he was brought up to believe these things … segregation, whites and blacks,” Stiviano said. “But through his actions he’s shown that he’s not a racist. He’s shown to be a very generous and kind man.”
Sterling, 80, has owned the Clippers since 1981. Sources also told ESPN Thursday that Sterling is battling cancer.
Stiviano is also currently tangled in a legal battle with Sterling’s estranged wife Rochelle Sterling.