During the ’90s, it was like Sinbad was always on TV. From his cameos on TV shows to his specials, the comedian always found a way to make us laugh. Many remember him mainly from his role as the genie in Shazaam, but he has had much more work than that. After building up his career, Sinbad ran into some bumps in the road that contributed to his disappearance in the entertainment realm. Did you know that he filed for bankruptcy not once, but twice? There’s more to the story, so keep reading to get to the bottom of it!
The Origins Of David Adkins
David Adkins’ origin story began many decades ago. Born in Benton Harbor, Michigan on Nov. 10, 1956, the comedian had a reverend for a father. In his late twenties, Adkins married Meredith Fuller in 1985.
At the time of meeting Fuller, Adkins was in the U.S. Air Force working as a boom operator. The air force had the future comedic star stationed in Wichita McConnel Air Force base at the time. It wasn’t long before he and fuller would have two children named Paige and Royce Beckly Adkins.
Early Life For Sinbad
Sinbad grew up with five other siblings. Growing up in Benton Harbor, he would take part in the marching band and math club at his high school to keep busy.
Sinbad was also a star basketball player with dreams of making it pro one day. After high school, he attended the University of Denver where he became an accomplished athlete for the school. Sadly, he wasn’t capable of becoming successful outside of the college courts.
Basketball At The University of Denver
Sinbad attended the University of Denver in Denver, Colorado from 1974 to 1978. While there, he lettered two seasons while playing for the basketball team. He wasn’t the best player on the squad, but he helped.
Going by the name David Adkins while attending the University of Denver, he had basic averages for his stats. In his first year playing, he averaged 5.8 rebounds and 5.1 points per game. That was also the season he played the most amount of games with 20.
Sinbad Goes AWOL
After his days studying at university were over, Sinbad chose the path of United States Air Force where he worked as a Boom Operator. He moved to Witchita Kansas but quickly realized that life wasn’t for him.
Reportedly, Sinbad ended up going AWOL after failing to make the Air Force basketball team roster. That wasn’t the only contributing factor, though, as he would “park in the wrong spot” multiple times as well. Sinbad ended up getting dishonorably discharged.
Gaining Some Popularity
Before leaving Witchita in the past, Sinbad managed to gain some momentum as a standup artist there. He created a very clean stage performance act, and eventually worked his way into the Star Search competition.
Once he started competing, he made his way to the finals of the show with ease. Sinbad ended up losing to a fellow comedian, but this show also gave him his first shot at fame that he wasn’t expecting at all.
Making The Redd Foxx Show
Surprise! Sometimes coming in second place isn’t that bad. Sinbad garnered enough attention during the Star Search competition that he was able to get cast on The Redd Foxx Show.
During the series, he played the young Bryon Lightfoot, the song of Foxx’s character, Al Hughs. Sadly for everyone on the show, it only lasted for 13 episodes before getting canned. ABC decided against renewing it because of the low ratings. This wouldn’t be the end for Sinbad.
A Different World
After The Redd Foxx Show didn’t pan out, Sinbad’s first consistent TV role would be on The Cosby Show spinoff, A Different World. It lasted from 1988 to 1991, way longer than his previous series.
Little did he know, this role would be only the start of what was to come for himself and other African American actors and actresses. A trend started with people of color getting roles of higher achievement, which led to Sinbad eventually becoming a cultural icon.
Becoming A Star
During the time he spent on A Different World before he would get his own show, Sinbad made several special appearances and a comedy special, Brain Damaged. Brain Damaged would go on to receive a ton of positive reviews, which only added to Sinbad’s reputation.
During this period, he made two cameos on Bill Nye the Science Guy and had an “interesting” role in Time Out: The Truth About HIV, AIDS, and You. Then came the big leagues.
Sinbad In Necessary Roughness
Sinbad built up a name for himself and a lot of hype which let him land a starring role in the film Necessary Roughness. Actors Scott Bakula, Rob Schneider, and Larry Miller also starred in the movie.
Necessary Roughness would go on to make $20 million at the box office, which isn’t too bad. The premise of the flick revolved around fictional college Texas State University as they had to start to the season with a bevy of new coaches and players.
The Sinbad Show
Once the whirlwind behind Necessary Roughness ended, The Sinbad Show saw its first airing with very high ratings. The show received a ton of praise for authentically representing the real issues that African American’s faced, and of course for the comedy.
Sinbad earned a Kid’s Choice Award nomination for Best Actor in 1995, even with the series ending in ’94. There might’ve been only 26 episodes, but the show still managed to gather plenty of attention in the comedy world.
The Turn Of The Century
By the turn of the century, Sinbad’s production rate would begin to decline, but he didn’t lose much quality. The first splash he made in the 2000s was his three-episode run on Resurrection Blvd in 2002.
Two years after that, Sinbad would make a prestigious list. Comedy Central named him the 78th greatest comedian of all-time, which isn’t too bad considering he started out wanting to play pro basketball. That’s also quite the accomplishment for someone who got discharged from the military.
No More Specials
As you’ve learned, Sinbad garnered a lot of attention in the ’90s. That’s primarily due to him being on TV all the time, a leading source for home entertainment. He would always do TV specials, doing five in eight years.
His specials showed on Comedy Central and HBO but would show less and less on the former once they started producing more original content. After 1998, he wouldn’t do another special until 2010’s Where U Been?
You Might Not See Him, But Listen Closely
While it’s true that Sinbad hasn’t had much screen time lately, you can still hear him if you listen closely. One of Sinbad’s signature traits is his recognizable voice. That’s why he decided to put that to good use.
Sinbad has done a lot of work as a voice actor for kids’ animated shows and movies. He was Harold Smiley on Cartoon Network’s Steven Universe, Eddie on ABC Family’s animated series Slacker Cats, and a forklift named roper in a Cars spinoff Planes.
Saving Mark Curry
If you’re a fan of Sinbad, then you more than likely remember Mark Curry. He was one of his contemporaries from the ’90s and the star of Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper.
One day in 2006, Curry found himself in a bad situation after his water heater exploded and left second-degree burns over 20 percent of his body. The injuries were so bad that Curry contemplated suicide. Sinbad stepped up to the plate to help as he was there for his friend. “It was Sinbad on the phone making me laugh,” Curry said.
Forming A Funk Band
While Sinbad is still a touring comic, if he’s going to grace the stage, you’re more likely to see the musician Sinbad. After he bought a drum kit, he learned how to play and formed a jazz-funk band called Memphis Red and the Stank Nasty Band.
Sinbad is the frontman, singing and playing the guitar as his alter ego Memphis Red. Memphis Red played before Sinbad’s 2014 special Make Me Wanna Holla. Is he multi-talented or what?
He’s Had Some Medical Issues
Anybody rarely goes through life without medical issues. In 2010, Sinbad underwent knee replacement surgery, a costly and painful surgery (he had two procedures). The aftermath requires a ton of recovery time as well.
The scary part is that patients have to re-learn how to walk! Sinbad had two new joints, “bionic joints” as he called them. Sadly, one of the new knees left one of his legs longer than the other, which resulted in a change of his gait. On his 59th birthday, Sinbad had to undergo double fusion spinal surgery.
Filing For Bankruptcy Twice
Taxes can come to get you if you aren’t careful. In 2009, the IRS went after Sinbad because he owed millions in unpaid taxes. A judge ordered that sell his Hidden Hills house worth $1.5 million.
In total, he owed $8.15 million. For protection, he filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. That filing got dismissed because he filled out the incorrect paperwork. Still, under fire for the tax money, he filed again in 2013. “I didn’t buy Bentleys. I didn’t live large. I invested in me. I invested in a lot of other people. I would not change it. I would not go back,” Sinbad told Oprah.
Reality TV Shows
One year after filing for bankruptcy the first time, Sinbad had to resort to something a ton of former stars fall back on: reality TV. Fans had the chance to see him on The Celebrity Apprentice in 2010, before getting fired on the second episode.
In an interview after he was fired Sinbad joked that his one regret was not telling the show’s host, “you need to fire your barber.” That would have been golden had he done it.
Not His Time Anymore
In 2014, Sinbad made a joke about why he wasn’t as popular as he used to be. He joked to BET that his absence was because Hollywood “would only pick one” black comedian to be in the limelight.
At that time, the star of choice was comedian Kevin Hart. Sinbad was only kidding about the conspiracy, but some of his words rang true. It’s not uncommon to see “hot” stars dwarf everyone who’s “not.” Hart’s reign as the number one continues until this day.
In 2018, Sinbad made his return to TV in Fox’s Rel. At first, he didn’t want to do the part because he was opposed to sitcoms, but he came around due to producer and star of the series, Rel.
“They were looking for somebody to play Rel’s father and I was looking to come back to TV, but I wasn’t looking to come back to a sitcom, to be honest,” Sinbad added. “But I liked Rel, I saw this young cat, and I really liked him.”