From Rags to Richest and Back Again

In Uncategorized on April 12, 2010 at 6:31 am

“Money, money, money money, money; some people got to have it; some people really need it; listen to me y’all, do things, do things, do bad things with it…” Lines to the O’Jays For the Love of Money. Last year, Sports Illustrated reported that “Although salaries have risen steadily during the last three decades, reports from a host of sources (athletes, players’ associations, agents and financial advisers) indicate that: by the time they have been retired for two years, 78% of former NFL players have gone bankrupt or are under financial stress because of joblessness or divorce. Within five years of retirement, an estimated 60% of former NBA players are broke.”

From my childhood idol University of Memphis basketball player and former NBA player David Vaughn to Antoine Walker now to Derrick Coleman, athletes are richer than ever and quickly losing those riches on either bad investments or poor financial management or blowing it on living what Vaughn’s former agent calls a “seductive life.”

The lure of “the life,” riches beyond the wildest imagination, riches that are supposed to last a lifetime and then some, and yet, many former athletes are faced with what happens next when that life is no more. For many athletes, it becomes a rags to richest type of life, yet the transition from rags to richest is not as simple as perhaps they had once imagined. Dr. Boyce Watkins recalls a conversation he had with Mike Carr, head of NBA Player Development, in which he “explained to Carr that there is a need to ensure that NBA players are getting proper training in financial literacy to manage such vast sums of wealth. Without disrespecting Carr or anyone else with the NBA, we can argue that the experiences of both Coleman and Walker imply that something more adequate might be necessary.”


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