One day you are on top of the world. You make tens of millions of dollars (in some cases, hundreds of millions) and get to play a simple game of basketball for your profession. You are VIP in all the clubs, you have your choice of women, and nothing could possibly go wrong.
And then you retire and your life falls apart.
That’s what has happened to oh so many NBA players, both role players and superstars. Bankruptcy, drug and alcohol problems, problems with the law and more have derailed the post-NBA careers of some of your favorite players. Some of these guys’ problems even started while they were still playing and just continued or increased after their playing days came to an end.
But with a downfall, there is always an opportunity for redemption. It would be nice to think that all of these guys were able to redeem their lives but that’s living in a fantasy world. Some just sank further and further into despair and are still battling personal demons, or even worse, incarcerated. However, others were truly able to turn around their lives and are now trying to help others from going through the same situations they went through. A few select were even able to return to the game they love and are involved with basketball at this very moment. As the saying goes, it’s not how many times you get knocked down but how many times you get back up and numerous NBA players who have fallen on hard times are still working their way back up. Here is our list of the top 15 NBA players whose lives fell apart after retiring: Where are they now?
15 Oliver Miller
Miller was an NBA center trapped inside an NFL offensive tackle’s body. The 6’9” 315 pounder played for five teams during his nine-year NBA career and is best known for teaming with Charles Barkley in Phoenix in what had to be the widest frontline in NBA history. Miller would then go on to play for the USBL, D-League and numerous minor league organizations before retiring from basketball in 2010. The problems that Miller had with weight during his career would be nothing compared to the problems he faced in retirement.
In 2011 he was arrested for pistol-whipping his girlfriend’s brother at a family cookout. Miller then beat the man in the middle of the street and he required 11 staples in his head to close the wound. Miller pleaded guilty and was sentenced to a year in prison followed by five years of probation. As long as he hasn’t had more problems since then, Miller’s probation should end later this year.
14 Vin Baker
Some players have money problems and some have legal problems; Vin Baker had both. The former four-time All-Star and 2000 Olympic gold medalist had his problems start when he was a member of the Celtics in the early 2000s. He showed up to practice one morning smelling like alcohol, was suspended by the team, and then eventually released. He managed to latch on with three more NBA teams after that but his problems with alcohol never came to an end. He was arrested for a DUI in 2007 and blew through the $97 million he made during his playing days.
He eventually rebounded and became a manager at a Starbucks near his hometown in Connecticut in 2015. He finally got back into basketball in 2017 as a guest analyst for Milwaukee Bucks games on Fox Sports Wisconsin and he also became an assistant coach for the Texas Legends of the D-League.
13 Kirk Snyder
Snyder was the WAC Player of the Year and led Nevada to its first ever Sweet 16 in school history. In the NBA he was a journeyman but was one of the 13 players involved in the largest trade in league history. He also infamously found out, first-hand, that you don’t cross Jerry Stackhouse. After leaving the NBA in 2009, Snyder was arrested for breaking into his neighbors’ home in Cincinnati and attacking them. He was charged with aggravated burglary and two counts of assault. Snyder would be convicted of all three charges and he was sentenced to three years in prison. He was released after about one year and subsequently signed with a Canadian professional basketball team. He would then play in Russia and the Dominican Republic and last played pro ball in 2011.
12 Mookie Blaylock
Daron “Mookie” Blaylock was a former NBA All-Star who was just the third player in history to lead the league in steals in consecutive years. He spent 13 years in the NBA and is best known for his time running the point for the Atlanta Hawks during the 1990s. Blaylock made nearly $32 million during his career but it didn’t take him long to blow through the cash as he had to turn to bartending after his playing days had ended. That job isn't ideal for someone who also had a drinking problem and has been arrested six times for DUI since 2007. In 2013 Blaylock was the driver involved in a head-on collision after his vehicle veered out of its lane. The crash ended up killing a passenger in the other vehicle and Blaylock would then be charged with vehicular homicide. He would plead guilty and then be sentenced to 15 years in prison but with a plea bargain, he will only serve three years behind bars. He is scheduled to be released later this year but will be on probation for eight more years and is prohibited from driving for 15 more years.
11 Kenny Anderson
Anderson was one of the greatest prep players in New York history and set the state’s high school record for most career points. After playing at Georgia Tech, he then went onto a 14-year NBA career highlighted by an All-Star appearance with the Nets. Anderson made $63 million during his pro career but literally just months after his last NBA game in 2005, he filed for bankruptcy. A couple of divorces stripped him of his wealth including one to Tami Roman of VH1’s Basketball Wives. Govan even used some of the money she received in the divorce settlement to create a vanity license plate that read “HISCASH” for her car. Anderson has eight kids by five different women and that’s a lot of child support payments to spread around.
In 2013, Anderson lost his job as a high school basketball coach after a DUI arrest. Anderson appears to have finally turned his life around as he recently helped produce a documentary on his life called Mr. Chibbs.
10 Keon Clark
In 2001 Clark became just the 11th player in NBA history to block a dozen shots in a game. A dozen years later the former lottery pick would be sentenced to eight years in prison. Clark was a one-dimensional player during his six years in the NBA, but since retiring who’s become a multi-dimensional criminal who can’t stay out of trouble. He’s struggled with alcohol his entire life and said he never played a game sober. He also said he drank half a pint of gin each day and would even drink during halftime of NBA games. But problems with alcohol were just the start of Clark’s struggles as in 2013 he pleaded guilty to weapons and DUI charges and was sentenced to eight years in prison. He will be required to serve at least half of that sentence in jail before possibly being paroled or placed on probation.
9 Billy Ray Bates
Before there was Linsanity, there was Billy Ray Bates who burst onto the NBA scene in 1980 with the Trail Blazers. Bates parlayed a 10-day contract into a long-term deal and averaged 26 PPG in the playoffs during his career. But Bates had attitudinal problems during his career that became much worse after he left the NBA. In 1998 he robbed a convenience store in New Jersey at knifepoint. Bates attacked the check-out attendant who required stitches afterwards and the whole incident was caught on videotape. He would serve nearly five years in prison, be paroled, but then violate his parole by failing a drug test. He would then go back to jail for three more years before finally being released in 2008.
He eventually latched on as an assistant coach with a pro team in the Philippines (where he played after the NBA), but was let go after about five months. Bates is currently living in Anaheim and is writing an autobiography on his life and career titled Born to Play Basketball.
8 Robert Swift
If you blinked, you might have missed Swift’s NBA career but he was a lottery pick straight out of high school in the 2004 draft. He played a couple of games alongside Durant and Westbrook as the SuperSonics transitioned to the OKC Thunder. Swift had a tough upbringing and those hard times continued after his NBA career. His dad filed for bankruptcy twice when Swift was a teen and in 2011 Swift was found guilty of reckless driving after a DUI. Two years later Swift was forced to vacate his home in Washington which was reportedly riddled with feces, guns, beer bottles, and garbage. A year later Swift was arrested at the home of a heroine and meth dealer and authorities found him holding a sawed-off shotgun.
Swift finally appears to have turned his life around due to the help of his former agent, Bob Myers, who is now the GM of the Golden State Warriors. Myers invited Swift to a tryout for the Warriors’ D-League affiliate and Swift took him up on his offer, stayed clean, and tried out for the Santa Cruz Warriors during the 2016-17 season.
7 Lonny Baxter
Baxter is best remembered as the burly center on Maryland’s championship team in 2002 alongside Steve Blake and Juan Dixon. He then played four seasons in the NBA with five different teams. He may have played longer, but just weeks after the 2005-06 season Baxter was arrested just blocks away from the White House for firing a gun into the air. He would spend 60 days in jail but that apparently wasn’t much of a deterrent as he would plead guilty to shipping firearms through FedEx just a year later. He would be sentenced to another 60 days in jail and two years of supervised release. With his NBA career virtually over, Baxter headed overseas and would play in leagues all across Europe before finishing his basketball career in Venezuela in 2013.
Baxter still appears to be in good graces with the University of Maryland as he was invited back to the championship team’s 15 year reunion earlier in 2017.
6 Antoine Walker
Perhaps the most famous NBA player who went bankrupt, Walker had it all before even playing in his first professional game. He was a high school teammate of Donovan McNabb, won a title at the University of Kentucky, and spent the summer before his rookie year playing pick-up hoops with Michael Jordan in between MJ filming scenes for Space Jam. Then in the NBA he was a three-time All-Star, won a ring with Miami, and made over $108 million in salary.
However, just one year after his pro career ended, Walker was arrested twice in seven months – once for a DUI and another time for writing bad checks related to gambling debts. That would lead to him filing for bankruptcy in 2010 and he had to sell his NBA championship ring just to make ends meet. In 2013 Walker finally cleared all of his legal hurdles and announced that he was debt free. He now works for the SEC Network as a college basketball analyst.
5 Jay Vincent
Vincent was nicknamed the “Midnight Creeper” for reasons unknown and it’s probably best that they remain unknown. He teamed with Magic Johnson during Michigan State’s 1979 National Championship and then played nine seasons in the NBA including averaging 20 PPG as a rookie with the Mavs. After staying out of the limelight for over 17 years, the Midnight Creeper then made headlines for the wrong reason. In 2010 Vincent was indicted by a federal grand jury on mail fraud charges that scammed nearly 20,000 people out of more than $2 million. He would be sentenced to five-and-a-half years in a Michigan prison but would be released a year early.
Since being released in 2016, Vincent has turned to the restaurant business and manages a place called “Juicy Burger” in Michigan. While in prison, Vincent also worked on a book about his life and career that he plans to have published soon.
4 Dennis Rodman
You could argue that The Worm’s life began to fall apart far before his playing days ended, but at least Rodman balanced out his career with some positive moments. Since retiring it’s been nothing but trouble for arguably the greatest rebounder in NBA history. He’s been to rehab, both in private and in public. In 2012, a court commissioner ruled that he owed his ex-wife over $860,000 in child and spousal support even though his financial advisor admitted his client was broke. Then, in 2016 Rodman was charged with causing a hit-and-run, driving across a highway divider, lying to police, and driving without a valid license. He faces up to two years in prison but he doesn’t seem worried as he’s busy offering his help to both the Trump Administration and Kim Jong-un to smooth over relations between the U.S. and North Korea.
3 Jayson Williams
Williams was something of a late bloomer as an NBA player as he reached his only All-Star game at the age of 30. He was a rebounding menace on the court but an affable guy off the court and was a studio analyst on the NBA on NBC after he retired. But he would lose that job in 2002 after accidentally killing his limousine driver while showing off his shotgun to a group of friends. Originally charged with manslaughter, Williams would eventually plead guilty to aggravated assault and served about two years in jail. While awaiting trial for the charges, Williams had become a full-blown alcoholic and said he drank a fifth of moonshine daily.
He finally seems to have gotten his life back on track as a Showtime Sports profile of him in December 2016 revealed he is volunteering at a rehab center in Florida to try to help others with addiction. In his own words on his occupation, “That’s my only job, just to be sober.”
2 Javaris Crittenton
The man personally picked by Phil Jackson to be the Lakers’ point guard of the future, Crittenton’s future is will now be behind bars. He played in high school with Dwight Howard, was traded for Pau Gasol, and nearly had a locker room shootout with Gilbert Arenas; but Crittenton is best remembered for what happened after his NBA career was over. In 2011 he shot and killed a mother of four in Atlanta. She wasn’t the original target as Crittenton was going after someone who robbed him earlier, but the bullet hit the mother and she died in the hospital. It took nearly four years for the trial to be set up but before it could begin in 2015, Crittenton pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and aggravated assault. He was sentenced to 23 years in prison followed by 17 years of probation and is serving time not far away from where he and Howard won a high school state title together.
1 Eddie Johnson
A two-time NBA All-Star with the Hawks in the early 80s, Johnson is one of a handful of players who have been permanently banned from the league due to drug use. He was suspended several times for failing drug tests during his career before finally being banned in 1987 for failing to attend drug and alcohol counseling. His problems would only grow from there.
He has reportedly been arrested nearly 100 times and has been convicted of burglary, battery, robbery, and possession of drug paraphernalia. Then, in 2006 he was charged with raping an adult woman. While awaiting trial for that charge, Johnson then was arrested for sexual battery and molestation of an 8-year-old girl in Florida. He would be convicted of that sexual assault charge which carries a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment without parole. He will spend the rest of his life in the Santa Rosa Correctional Institution in northwest Florida.