Scandals in the NFL, the NBA, the Tour de France, and Major League Baseball might be bad news for sports, but you won’t hear William “Billy” Martin complaining.
The Howard University graduate has emerged as the nation’s preeminent sports lawyer, representing athletic heroes with legal problems. The latest troubled athlete to come calling is Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick, accused of operating an illegal interstate dogfighting ring.
Martin is married to NPR talk-show host Michel Martin, with whom he has four-year-old twins. He has two older daughters from an earlier marriage and lives in DC’s Shepherd Park. A lifelong Steelers fan, Martin shuttles to his native Pittsburgh for games, sometimes wearing his own yellow-and-black jersey.
Vick is the latest in a long line of clients, including these.
Boxer Riddick Bowe: In 2000, Martin was a key part of the legal team that persuaded a judge that brain damage had caused the Prince George’s County resident to kidnap his estranged wife and five kids. The same year, Bowe, trying to get a new fight license, claimed he had no brain injury. In 2001, using a different lawyer, the onetime heavyweight champ ended up sentenced to 18 months in prison for the same crime.
NBA star Allen Iverson: One of Martin’s most lucrative representations, Iverson is the criminal lawyers’ gift that keeps on giving. Martin has represented Iverson for more than ten years, most recently defending him and a bodyguard in a $20-million civil suit that claimed Iverson’s entourage had beaten two men at Eyebar in downtown DC. Iverson eventually paid only $260,000.
Former Wizard Juwan Howard: Accused of sexual assault, Howard was defended by Martin. In the end, the accuser had to pay Howard $100,001 for defamation.
Former New Jersey Nets star Jayson Williams: Martin succeeded in getting a hung jury for Williams, who was accused of shooting his chauffeur. The well-publicized case is now being retried.
The mothers of murder victim Chandra Levy and White House temptress Monica Lewinsky: Martin guided each through difficult legal procedures. Lawyers say Martin is a whiz with moms; much of his work on behalf of athletes is soothing, calming, and explaining things to the mothers of young athletes.
Wesley Snipes: The athletic hero of Blade, now wanted in real life by federal officials for tax fraud and evasion, won’t be battling alone this time. When his Florida trial starts in October, Martin will be at his side.