With his reputation fraying and his freedom in peril, Barry Bonds has come out swinging with a surprise public relations effort.
Bonds, who passed Hank Aaron for the title of baseball’s home run king last season, pleaded not guilty to perjury and obstruction of justice for lying to a grand jury about using performance-enhancing drugs Friday.
On Monday, a source close to the controversial slugger said he plans to aid a troubled West African princess who sent him a desperate e-mail begging the 43-year-old Bonds to help her out of a financial bind.
The source said that Princess Helen Keita of Cote d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast) is currently living in a refugee camp in Abidjan, the largest city in the war-torn nation. She apparently confided in Bonds that she’s worth more than $8 million, a sum deposited in a local bank by her father, the Chief Adam Keita, before he was murdered by militants in November.
Bonds, via the source, said: “I signed into my Gmail a couple of weeks ago and I got this incredible, shocking message from this innocent young princess stuck in refugee camp somewhere in Africa. She was sweet and friendly, and it’s been a while since someone approached me on a human level. She wished me good health and blessings, and when she opened up to me about her frustration and hardship, it just touched my heart.
“And she never once mentioned steroids or perjury or any of that crap!
“So it turns out her daddy was a chief and this big wheel over there who was killed by some badass dudes. He willed her $8.2 million. Only she needs Barry’s help to get her hands on the cash safely. She’s gonna temporarily put the money in my account, then stop by and pick it up when she gets here. With all the war and killing and bad stuff going down over there, it’s just too dangerous for a fine girl like that over there.”
Bonds said he’s thankful to get the opportunity to show his many critics another side of his enigmatic personality, adding:
“I want to say this to all you jackasses in the media who are always going around dissing on Barry: When’s the last time any of you scribblers rescued an African damsel in distress? Yeah? What? Can’t hear you, punk!
“And get this! When she gets over here, she’s gonna give me a cool $1.2 million. Just for the trouble, though it’s really no trouble at all. I’m glad to do it! How weird is that?
“I’m not hard up for cash, but you know, I might not have a job next year. And the best part is I don’t need to give a cut to my agent (Jeff Borris) because I scored this gig with no help from his sorry ass! Just kiddin’ man. I love you, my brother!”
Bonds, a free agent who made $15.5 million last season while playing for the San Francisco Giants, has been a key figure in the Bay Area Laboratory Co-operative steroids scandal. He has steadfastly maintained his denial that he ever knowingly took steroids.
“All the negativity that’s all over me like a bad stink, all the lies that’ve been spread around about me in the media, people think I’m some kind of heartless bastard who doesn’t feel for other people. I hope this will show that couldn’t be further from the truth.
“And here’s the ironic thing: Her dad was a cocoa merchant over there. And you know what? Barry’s always had a fondness for that Willie Wonka cat! So all those people out there saying Barry Bonds ain’t got no heart, well, what do you say now? Yo, I’m talkin’ to you!”