It’s often argued that professional athletes get paid way too much money, considering that their only professional responsibilities are to play games for a living. True the money could go to better uses or be used on different professions such as doctors who often handle human lives on a day to day basis. But this is the way society works and if someone’s able to put up big numbers, they get the big bucks. And often times, big companies will seek these players out, promising huge contracts to use them in advertisements. However, players can lose all this money just as easily as they made it.
These guys are as human as everyone else. They’re prone to making bad choices. Be it a business venture, lavish spending spree or legal trouble, lots of players lose a lot of money both during their playing careers and in retirement. It’s surprising to us because we can’t even begin to imagine how we’d spend this kind of cash if we had it. Meanwhile you’ve got some athletes declaring bankruptcy while others look to be on their way after spending millions on useless nothings. It might not seem like it if you’re making as much as everyone else, but the money can go real fast when there’s too much of it.
So who is to blame for all these now down on their luck superstars, some of whom with next to nothing to their names? Themselves of course. Poor money management along with bad decisions are costly. But getting in trouble with the law or breaking league rules can be even worse. Terminated contracts and endorsements are the quickest ways for players to lose cash that was never even there. It’s these athletes jobs to keep their images clean. Basically, if you’re a multi-million dollar pro athlete then don’t do anything stupid in the heat of the moment. Otherwise you’ll end up like some of these poor schlubs.
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15 Vin Baker
After so many years of dominating at their respective sport, successful athletes often find themselves at a loss as to how they should spend their time after stepping away from all the action and cheering crowds. It isn’t rare for them to venture into entrepreneurship after or even during their pro careers. Vin Baker played fifteen seasons in the NBA and established himself as an exceptional power forward and center in the league. By the end of his career Baker had amassed some $90 million, but problems with alcoholism and gambling have cost him. But his worst decision of the court had to be the opening of the Vin Baker Fish House, which reportedly cost him $1 million after it went under. What’s worse, Baker claimed that his financial adviser lost nearly all of the $86 million he’d had saved up during his time in the NBA.
14 Latrell Sprewell
We all know that professional athletes have egos. That’s a given. Whenever you get paid to play in front of thousands of cheering fans, you’re bound to develop some sort of unhealthy infatuation with yourself. Having an obnoxious personality might somewhat kill someone’s social life, but are there athletes that find themselves to be so above everyone else, that they’d throw away large sums of money? Of course there are. Latrell Sprewell played thirteen seasons in the NBA, but famously refused to play three of those under a $21 million contract. Yup, he actually turned down that much cash claiming he had to “feed his family”. Apparently, $21 million added to another $100 million in career earnings isn’t enough to buy his kids Cinnamon Toast Crunch. A year after rejecting that payday, he was out of the league and having to find new ways to feed his family.
13 Tarell Brown
Aside from playing in the actual games themselves, athletes are contractually obliged to participate in a number of mandatory offseason workout programs. Failing to do so usually gets them fined, so unless it’s a big name star trying to get themselves a new deal, most players don’t risk it. In the case of Tarell Brown, the choice wasn’t his to make. Well it was but he just didn’t know about it in the first place. Brown was charged $2 million for failing to attend 49ers offseason workouts back in 2013. He claimed his agent failed to inform him that they were mandatory – and yes a share of the blame should go to his agent – but this was in Brown’s contract. It’s his job for Pete’s sake.
12 Plaxico Burress
Once a Super Bowl hero, Plaxico Burress legacy as an NFL player isn’t one of a great player, but instead of one of the most unfortunate klutz’s to ever put on a jersey. After being held out of a game against the Washington Redskins in 2008, Burress decided to hit up a nightclub in Manhattan. No problems there, as everyone needs some downtime. But Burress had the bright idea to bring a gun with him that night. It slipped out of his pants and he ended up shooting himself in the thigh. He was later arrested for carrying an illegal firearm, was suspended by the Giants and then had his contract terminated by the team. He got to spend the next three years out of the league and the Giants had no obligation to pay off the rest of his six year, $25 million deal that he’d signed in 2005.
11 John Daly
Gambling addiction is a serious problem, often sending the victims life into a downward spiral of compulsion and debt. In his autobiography, John Daly admitted that he’s struggled with a gambling problem for numerous years. Daly isn’t some insurance salesman, he’s a very successful pro golfer. He doesn’t lose thousands, he loses millions. In 2005, he lost $1.5 million at a Vegas casino over the course of one day. That’s nothing compared to how much he’s blown over the years. In total it comes out to around $60 million. That’s a ridiculous amount of money to just throw away.
10 Marquis Daniels
The last time Marquis Daniels played in the NBA was in 2013 for the Milwaukee Bucks. Mostly a bench player, Daniels probably made one of the stupidest, impractical purchases of all-time in 2010 when he bought a pendant shaped like his head. The 3-D miniature copy of his head is 1.3 kg of 14-karat gold and is covered with white and cognac diamonds. Given the price of gold – and of diamonds – that all couldn’t have been cheap. For a guy whose last contract in the NBA gave him around $1.2 million, Daniels sure is reckless with his money.
9 Floyd Mayweather
In 2011, Floyd Mayweather shot down offers for him to fight Manny Pacquiao. How much did he turn down? Mayweather easily dismissed a $65 million dollar paycheck which would’ve enticed the average man to commit a series of major crimes. Four years later, he and Pacquiao finally met in the ring and the fight turned out to be a major bust, though he did end up making plenty of money that time too. Even though he made a huge pay day this time, he could've easily fought him in 2011, make $65 million, then fought him again 2015 and made even more cash.
8 Aaron Hernandez
The former Patriots star was recently found guilty of the Murder of Odin Lloyd. Hernandez was arrested back in 2013 for the crime and will now be serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole. What Hernandez did can’t be characterized by the stupidity of the action or the motive behind it. He took a human life and that obviously can’t be overlooked, no matter his stature in the NFL community before the crime. Hernandez signed a $40 million deal in 2012. As a result of his release from the New England Patriots and his subsequent arrest, Hernandez lost $21.76 million in base salary.
7 Michael Vick
Michael Vick used to be one of the most explosive players in the NFL. He was a dynamic runner/passer and looked like he could be the same dual threat player Randall Cunningham and Steve McNair were in their primes. But Michael Vick was also a cruel man and that was made very clear in 2007 when he was arrested for running a dogfighting ring. Countless dogs died while others were left injured in terrible living conditions. Vick was arrested and spent 18 months in prison. His contract (10 years, $135 million) was terminated by the Atlanta Falcons and he lost countless endorsement including Nike.
6 Mike Richards
Crossing the border is always somewhat intimidating even when you know you’ve got nothing to hide. There’s a line, strange men are questioning you, and sometimes they even pull you over. It’s an ordeal. So imagine how Mike Richards felt when he got pulled over with a ton of Oxycotton on him. The former Kings forward was apprehended by RCMP officers with the illegal pills on June 17th. A couple weeks later the Kings – who were reportedly trying to buy-out Richards – terminated his contract. Richards’s little Breaking Bad episode cost him $5.75 million this season and over the next five seasons of his contract. Roughly $29 million.
5 Javaris Crittenton
Teammates usually get along pretty well with each other. They see one another in practice, in the film room and even socialize outside of their professional lives. Javaris Crittenton and Gilbert Arenas weren’t those types of teammates. After losing some money gambling an altercation broke out between Crittenton – who’d lost a little over $1,000 playing cards – and Arenas. The two then proceeded to bring guns into the Wizards locker room and were both suspended. Crittenton was released soon after, losing out on his contract. He signed a non-guaranteed contract with the Bobcats a year after the incident, but was cut three weeks later, getting nothing. Sadly, his life has taken an even darker turn since then, as he was recently sentenced to 23 years in prison after he pled guilty to mansluaghter.
4 Jason Pierre-Paul
We all do stupid stuff as kids especially when it comes to things that are dangerous, like fireworks. Except people usually outgrow these idiotic desires as they mature and learn from their mistakes. Not Jason Pierre-Paul. The Giants defensive end played all 16 games last year for the first time in his career, amassing 12.5 sacks after two years plagued by injury and inconsistency. Currently under the franchise tag, Pierre-Paul and the Giants have been looking to reach a long term deal by the July 15th deadline. But after news of Pierre-Paul suffering a hand injury while trying to light some fireworks on 4th of July weekend reached the Giants, it's rumored that the team withdrew a long-term deal worth $60 million dollars. Pierre-Paul looks like he’ll be playing under the franchise tag this season, but don’t worry, he reportedly wasn’t going to sign the contract either way.
3 Kobe Bryant
He’s one of the biggest sports figures in the world, but Kobe Bryant once lost the admiration and trust of millions during the summer of 2003. Bryant was accused of sexual assault, causing his reputation and image to take a hit. While he’s since then recovered from the decade-old incident, Bryant was hit by the allegations pretty hard. Particularly when it came to his endorsements. He was dropped by Nutella and McDonalds, costing him millions and while Nike did keep him on board, they refused to use his image for two years.
2 Ray Rice
The former Baltimore Ravens running back is still without a home almost a year after surveillance camera footage of him violently assaulting his fiancée in a Atlantic City elevator surfaced online. The video – depicting the event that had occurred earlier that year – showed Rice dragging his fiancées limp body out of the elevator. Legal troubles aside, Rice already looked to be digressing at that point in his career. He was released by the Ravens after public outcry over the video – with sponsors Vertimax and Nike following suit, costing him around $1.6 million.
1 Tiger Woods
What is it about fame and money that make people do stupid things? Tiger Woods was hands down the world’s most recognizable golfer. Yet his achievements are now overshadowed by a sex scandal that saw him sleep with a handful of women while being married and supporting two children. It all started in 2009 after an incident involving his wife and his busted up car brought into question his integrity. The flood gates just opened up from there and Woods lost sponsor after sponsor. Accenture, Gatorade, AT&T, Tag Heuer, Gillette and General Motors all dropped him costing Woods an estimated $23 million in 2010 alone. On top of that, when his then-wife divorced him, he reportedly gave her $100 million. That's quite a chunk of change to lose all at once.
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