In professional sports, the ultimate achievement is earning a championship ring, whether it’s in the NBA, NFL, MLB, or NHL. Although it’s just a piece of expensive metal, rings are a lifetime reminder of what a player and his teammates accomplished, and most athletes would never consider parting with their prized piece of jewelry.
Other players don’t share in this sentiment. Some chose to sell their rings for charity (like former New England Patriots safety Je’Rod Cherry) or simply because they don’t care for lavish material possessions (like former Edmonton Oilers owner Peter Pocklington). Some give them to family members as gifts or mementos. Former New York Giants linebacker and two-time Super Bowl champion Lawrence Taylor, for instance, gave his Super Bowl XXV ring to his son, who auctioned it off back in 2012. Julius Erving also sold his New Jersey Nets 1983 Championship ring and some 140 other items that netted $3.5 million on the auction block. However, other than an outstanding loan of $200,000 borrowed to build a golf course, it didn’t appear that the sales were related to any major financial issues.
Still, other players have felt a need to pawn or sell their rings, usually because of what pawn brokers refer to as the “three D’s”: drugs, divorce, and death. And a few players were even forced to sell their rings by judicial order as part of bankruptcy or debt settlements. We’ll run the gamut on these last few categories as we examine the stories behind 15 athletes who went so broke they had to sell their championship rings.