It’s a sad reality that many athletes find themselves in poor financial situations not long after retiring. Sure they might make millions of dollars in their playing days, but lavish lifestyles, poor investments, and/or legal troubles can drain a former athlete’s bank account in a matter of years, leaving them broke, relatively young, and without a means of income.
Some of today’s athletes have learned from their predecessors and taken steps to assure that they won’t follow in their footsteps. For example, star Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski has claimed that he hasn’t spent a penny of his earnings so far, instead surviving off of his endorsement deals and choosing to live a frugal lifestyle. Marshawn Lynch similarly revealed that his career earnings have gone largely untouched, leaving him in a comfortable financial situation now that he is retired.
But not everyone has been as smart with their money. Look at Floyd Mayweather. Sure he made hundreds of millions of dollars in his career, but at the rate that he’s burning through his cash, both figuratively and literally, he might be broke by the time he hits middle age.
Mayweather should take heed of the following 15 NBA players who hit rock bottom after they retired, lest he fall victim to their mistakes.
15. Oliver Miller
Miller is best remembered for his time with Toronto, where he put up career highs in points per game (12.9) and total rebounds (7.4) in 2005. Nicknamed “The Big O” because he weighed well over 300 lbs., Miller played on five different teams throughout his nine seasons in the NBA and also spent time in leagues in Greece, Poland, China, and Puerto Rico.
Things went south for him once his playing days ended in 2010. In 2011, he was charged with, amongst other things, first-degree and second-degree assault, reckless endangerment, possession of a handgun, using a handgun in a violent crime, possessing a handgun in a vehicle, and disorderly conduct. He pled guilty later that year and was sentenced to a year in county jail with five years probation. He should change his nickname from “The Big O” to “The Big Oh No.”
14. Vin Baker
Playing most of his career with the Milwaukee Bucks and the Seattle Supersonics, Vin Baker was an all-star for four years straight from 1995-1998. He average 15 points and 7.4 rebounds per game throughout his career. Other career highlights include being draft 8th overall out of University of Hartford and winning a gold medal at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney. In other words, Baker was on top of the world for a few years, which makes his fall to rock bottom all the more dramatic.
On top of a drunk driving arrest in 2007, he had serious financial troubles and lost his mansion to foreclosure the following year. In total, it’s believed that he lost over $100 million as a result of poor financial decisions. Baker’s situation became so dire that it was reported in 2015 that he was training to become a manager at a Starbucks. You’ve got to give him credit for going out there and getting a job.
13. Eddy Curry
Eddy Curry had the world in his hands in 2001. Drafted 4th overall out of high school, the 7’ tall 300 lb. native of Illinois was poised to be the next Shaquille O’Neal (hence the nickname “Baby Shaq”). But things didn’t work out as planned for him, as he was out of the league almost as fast as he was in it. He put up a few good seasons points-wise with the Bulls and the Knicks, but he wasn’t as good as advertised and was all but finished by the age of 25.
Since leaving the sport, Curry has found himself in hot water on more than one occasion. In 2009, while still in the NBA but seeing hardly any playing time, he was accused of sexual harassment by his chauffeur, who claimed that the Knicks center had made several unwanted advances toward him, including trying to pay him for sex. Things would only get worse from there as Curry’s house was foreclosed in 2009 due to over $200k dollars in unpaid mortgage bills.
12. Latrell Sprewell
By the late 90s, Latrell Sprewell’s name had become synonymous with trouble. Despite being a talented player, averaging over 18 points per game throughout his career and being named to four all-star teams, he simply couldn’t overcome his inner demons and constantly found himself in trouble throughout his time in the NBA.
Things didn’t improve when he left the league, either. Shortly after his retirement in 2005, Sprewell found himself in legal trouble, beginning with the repossession of his yacht in 2007 as a result of over $1 million in unpaid bills. He then lost his home to foreclosure in 2008 after failing to make mortgage payments.
During a practice in 1997 with the Golden State Warriors, Sprewell infamously choked his coach, P.J. Carlesimo, and in an instance of déjà vu, he was accused of strangling a woman nearly a decade later. This guy’s wrung more necks than Homer Simpson.
11. Antoine Walker
Antoine Walker is a former first-round draft pick who played for the Boston Celtics and won a championship in 2006 with the Miami Heat. A three-time all-star, he averaged 17.5 points and 7.7 rebounds per game throughout his lengthy career, which spanned from 1996-2008.
Walker’s legal troubles have been well documented, and he is regularly cited as an example of how professional athletes should not act. In 2009, while at the tail end of his career, he was arrested for driving under the influence and later charged with writing bad checks. It is believed that he racked up over $800k in gambling debts. 2010 was more of the same for Walker, as he was up on felony charges related to writing bad checks, and he narrowly avoided prison the following year by pleading guilty to similar charges. Last we heard, Walker had filed for bankruptcy, and this despite making over $100 million throughout his career.
10. Allen Iverson
Former MVP and 11-time all-star Allen “The Answer” Iverson is one of the highest scoring basketball players of all time, averaging 26.7 points per game throughout his career.
One thing he doesn’t have the answer to, however, is keeping his money. Since his retirement from the NBA in 2010, it’s been widely reported that Iverson has had financial troubles as a result of his lavish lifestyle. ESPN reporter Stephen A. Smith claimed in 2010 that Iverson had been banned from several casinos and predicted that the former 76er would “either drink himself into oblivion or gamble his life away.” A.I. is so bad with his money that he apparently receives an annual salary of $1 million because he can’t be trusted not to blow it all.
9. Delonte West
At just 32 years of age, Delonte West, who was drafted in the first round out of Saint Joseph’s and played for the Boston Celtics, the Seattle Supersonics, the Cleveland Cavaliers, and the Dallas Mavericks, has already hit rock bottom.
West was recently in the news after photos appeared online supposedly showing him begging for money on the streets of Maryland. It is believed by some that he has become homeless and is suffering from schizophrenia. West, however, denies the rumors and says that he was merely helping a homeless man. This isn’t the first time that West has made news for his behavior, however. In 2009 he was arrested after he was pulled over and found to be carrying several guns (including a shotgun in a guitar case). He also claims that his reputation in the NBA was unfairly tarnished by rumors that he had had an affair with LeBron James’s mother.
8. Scottie Pippen
Many believe that without Scottie Pippen, Michael Jordan would never have been able to win six NBA championships. Lauded for his defensive abilities, Pippen also averaged more than 20 points per game on four separate occasions, and was named an all-star seven times. He was also a part of the 1992 “Dream Team” that took home the gold medal at the Barcelona Olympics.
So how is it possible that someone who accomplished all that could find himself in financial trouble? The answer: bad investments. Among them was a $5 million jet that couldn’t fly. Overall, Pippen is believed to have lost $120 million. That said, his net worth is still listed as $50 million, so what might be rock bottom to him is Mount Everest to the rest of us.
7. Derrick Coleman
Despite having the potential to be a perennial all-star, former first-round pick Derrick Coleman was only an above average power forward in the NBA, making just one all-star team. Most notably, he played for the New Jersey Nets and the Philadelphia 76ers. He averaged a respectable 16.5 points per game throughout his career to go along with 9.3 rebounds per game.
Like Pippen, Coleman didn’t do himself any favors by making ill-advised investments. But Coleman didn’t just invest in a plane; he invested in an entire city. A large portion of his career earnings (nearly $100 million) went down the drain when he tried to jumpstart the Detroit economy by investing in developments in communities throughout the city. His attempts, while admirable, were largely a failure, and he would go on to file for bankruptcy, claiming to owe nearly $5 million to between 50 and 99 creditors.
6. Dennis Rodman
It’s hard to remember now, but believe it or not, before he was Kim Jong-Un’s BFF, Dennis Rodman was one of the best players in the NBA. Along with Scottie Pippen and Michael Jordan, Rodman was a part of the incredible Chicago Bulls team that won five championships between 1989 and 1998. He was named an all-star and the defensive player of the year twice, and led the league in rebounds seven times. His 13.1 rebounds per game stands as the tenth best of all time.
Life hasn’t been so easy for Rodman post-NBA, however. Following a slew of bizarre publicity stunts and a number of drunk driving arrests that began in the late 90s, Rodman finally checked himself into rehab in 2008. Unfortunately, the treatment didn’t work, as he would go on to continue to abuse alcohol until he hit rock bottom in 2014, when he travelled to North Korea to visit dictator Kim Jong-Un.
5. Shawn Kemp
Shawn Kemp is a legend in Seattle, having helped lead the Supersonics to their first NBA appearance in nearly two decades. He made the all-star team every year for six seasons and averaged over 18 points and 10 rebounds per game from 1992-1999. Due to weight issues and drug and alcohol problems, he quickly declined after the 2000 season and was forced to enter rehab his first year with the Portland Trailblazers.
His decline continued after his career was over until he finally hit rock bottom in 2005, when he was arrested in Washington in relation to a drug possession investigation. Kemp pled guilty to drug possession after he and another person were discovered to have had 2 kilos of cocaine and 60 grams of marijuana between them. Apparently not learning anything from the incident, Kemp was again arrested the following year for misdemeanor marijuana possession.
4. Rick Mahorn
After being drafted in the second round out of Hampton University, 6’10” Rick Mahorn played in the NBA from 1980 to 1999 (not including a brief stint in Italy during the 1991-1992 season). Although not an all-star, Mahorn was a solid player, named to the NBA all-defensive second team in 1990, and helped the Detroit Pistons sweep the Los Angeles Lakers in the finals in 1989.
He is believed to have made about $7 million throughout his career (remember, he started out in the early 80s), yet when he filed for bankruptcy roughly a decade after his playing days were over he had less than $2,000. In 2009, Mahorn was named the head coach of the WNBA team the Detroit Shock, marking a new low in his career… just kidding of course.
3. Jason Caffey
Jason Caffey rode the coattails of Michael Jordan all the way to two NBA Championships in 1996 and 97, and he nearly won a third title, had he not been traded to the Golden State Warriors in the middle of the 97-98 season. Averaging just 3.2 and 7.3 points per game respectively in 96 and 97, it’s fair to say that Caffey wasn’t exactly a deciding factor in the Bulls’ consecutive championship wins.
Despite being little more than a role player throughout his career, he managed to earn roughly $30 million in his 8 seasons in the NBA, nearly all of which was lost to child support payments to ten children (by eight different women). Caffey, which sounds like a Celtic fan trying to saying “coffee,” was arrested in 2007 for failing to make his payments.
2. Eric Williams
Eric Williams played in the NBA from 1995 to 2007. His best year came during the 1996-97 season, when he put up 15 points per game at forward for the Boston Celtics.
Despite reportedly going broke and homeless after making $40 million in his career, the worst thing that happened to Williams after leaving the NBA was appearing on the reality show Basketball Wives: Miami. He made a fool of himself on the show by getting in an argument with his ex-wife, Jennifer Williams, and throwing a drink in her face. He didn’t exactly make friends with the other wives on the show, either, as Tami Roman, ex-wife of former NBA player Kenny Anderson, commenting on the news that Williams was broke and homeless, added insult to injury by saying, “God doesn’t like ugly.”
1. David Harrison
With just four seasons in the NBA, most of which time he spent riding the bench, former first-round draft pick David Harrison had the shortest career of anyone on this list. Drafted in 2004, he was out of the league by 2008 and on the other side of the world playing in Beijing. He played in China until 2012, at which point he came back home to play in the D-League for the Reno Bighorns.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, Harrison was featured in an ESPN documentary entitled 30 for 30: Broke, wherein he described his struggles after the NBA, claiming to have worked the night shift at McDonald’s just to make ends meet. Thankfully his story has a happy ending, as he now works in stock trading and hopes to be able to go back to finish his degree at University of Colorado.
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