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Friday, June 24, 2011

STRAPPED: Athletes Face Long Odds to Stay Rich

FRESH off of the excitement of the NBA Draft (where players celebrate like this), I read an article that reminded of a few stats about professional athletes:
6% of high school football players go on to play NCAA football.
Fewer than 2% of college football players get drafted by an NFL team.

Why am I talking about football when the NBA is clearly basketball? Because regardless of the sport, professional athletes face homogenous circumstances.

I hate to be the bearer of bad news (well not really, news is news), but statistics gathered by Sports Illustrated shows 78% of athletes end up bankrupt or in financial strain because of joblessness or divorce within two years of retiring. 60% of NBA players are broke five years after retiring. With the NFL lockout still looming, many athletes are set to face financial strain before they retire. When my bank account is low, I get sympathy from my family. When pro athletes go broke, they get ZERO sympathy from the general public or anyone else. The athletes make poor judgment or get caught up in bad investments and before they know they will have lost everything. How do you go from making $168 million to not being able to afford the world's smallest violin?  Seriously, who would feel sorry for LeBron if he made an announcement tomorrow that he is broke? Would you feel sorry for Magic Johnson? You wouldn't? Neither would I.

Allow me to explain something some of you may not understand. To many professional athletes, playing sports exceptionally well was their ticket out of the "hood." This is especially true for African American athletes who are more likely to come from broken and BROKE homes. I'm always happy to see them move their family out of the hood and start living good. Word to Trey. I hear what you're saying, the league minimum is $400,000 for baseball and even more for the NBA, where the frick does all the money go? First off, you have to understand the newly minted pro athletes do not have a lot of time to allow their financial knowledge to mature. While most people have a few years to learn, their instant riches only gives them a few months. Now lets look at the numbers: Lets say an NFL player is making $340,000 of which he pays $151, 030 in taxes and union dues. From the $188,970 he is left with he pays $10k to his agent, $9k to a trainer and other upkeep costs, $3,6000 in financial management fees, $2,000 for a lawyer (yay lawyers!) to write a will and prenup and $1,500 for insurance. Considering a car, donations, family, shelter which could add up to $48-50,000 the athlete is really only left with a little over $42,000. BIG WOOP.

There is a lot of pressure to share the wealth. There is also a strong impetus in my community for the person who "makes" it to then take care of the people who took care of them when they were down on their luck. As femme fatale Nicki Minaj showed in her MTV Documentary, it is common for people to buy their mother a nice home and bless their family with material gifts after the big pay day. What goes around behind the scenes? When you "make" it, everyone has their hands out.  The newly drafted players want to be able to tell their mother she will never have to work again. The cousin who allowed you to sleep on their couch now wants help with their college tuition. The aunts who gave you a hot meal want help with their bills and mama wants a house. The friends, who they might have played with before getting drafted also want a piece of the pie. This does not include the child support payments some of them will soon be slammed with. That decision to have unprotected sex the night he got drafted? Oh yea he's gonna PAY for it.

Point is, their good intentions go overboard and lead to their downfall.

The pressure to uplift everyone along with you is intense and mind boggling. You may see your favorite athletes with huge entourages populated with friends, family and pretty women but what you don't know is how much having the entourage costs. Additionally, some athletes get sucked into the "culture" and become engulfed in trying to live like a pro athlete. NBA and NFL players are more likely than baseball or hockey players to have this problem. They buy huge homes that they barely live in, expensive cars they barely drive and blow money like its going out of style. Before you go rolling your neck about assumptions you think I'm making understand that I'm not telling you what I think, I'm speaking about what I KNOW.

Many stories run the gamut of rags to riches. Then they end up broke and back to rags. This is not a situation unique to athletes, entertainers also fight a similar battle. Remember how MC Hammer managed to BLOW $30 millie? Thats a story for another post. Back to my point.  4 years after winning the world championship, Miami Heat player Antoine Walker found himself in bankruptcy court. While Walker's spending habits and bad decisions may have led to his financial demise, some have found themselves similarly situated after trusting the wrong financial advisors. Sometimes they get bad advice and sometimes they don't listen to their advisors. Other issues they encounter include theft from people they trust such as when Kendrys Morales' agent, Rodney Fernandez stole $305,000 from his bank account.

Although the numbers seemed to stacked against them, many athletes make the best of their situation. Players like E.J. Biggers have resisted the urge to compete with their locker room buddies and are financially savvy. Biggers rents an apartment with his friend, drives a 5 year old car and has saved up 20 months of living in anticipation of the lockout.

I sincerely hope the athletes of the present and future become more smart about their money so that the media can stop writing stories about the Top 15 broke athletes.

Source: The Florida Trend

*insert clever and funny ending here* This is the part where I end the post and ask you to share your thoughts while reminding you that you may remain anonymous if you so choose.


Anonymous said...

You used the wrong form of "to" on the second sentence, second full paragraph. Yours truly, a faithful reader!

Rickeysha G said...


Thanks for the correction but ummm am I blind? I don't see it!

Anonymous said...

"To" many professional athletes playing sports exceptionally well was their ticket out of the "hood."

Rickeysha G said...


Thanks but I meant it to be singular. I think you may be pausing at the wrong spot and reading the "to many" as "too many" when its not that. The statement is about the fact that many athletes use their skill as their ticket out of the hood, not that too many of them do that. Does that make sense?

I'll have to work on my syntax. Thanks for putting me on notice :-)

Anonymous said...

How could you have meant it to be singular when you are speaking to athletes (plural), not a specific athlete? And you welcome for the notice. I love your blog!

Rickeysha G said...

*giggling* because I think you're still reading it wrong. I'm not speaking TO any athlete, I'm actually speaking ABOUT them. The paragraph that contains the sentence in question is actually targeted at my readers who may not know much about the topic. Hence, the lead in: "Allow me to explain something some of you may not understand." That said, the way I intended to use that form of "to" is like saying "to the world you may be one person but to one person you may be the world" not "too man people think the world revolves around them." I'm just saying many athletes see athletics as their ticket out. I don't think too many of them do it because I LOVE to see them come up and out of bad situations. I enjoy reading and watching stories of athletes that grew up in bad neighborhoods but turned around their situation and their family's circumstances by using the talent God gave them. If anything, I think TOO many athletes who are lucky enough to make it to the pros end up broke.

If you could think of a better way for me to say it, please share it.

Thanks for your readership. It means a lot :-)

Anonymous said...

That's precisely the beauty and power of the scribe. To make his canvas his own and mesmerize. Of course we all grow up with certain fundamentals in grammar, but what makes a piece of work personal is that specific touch and personalization from the authors world. Again I thank you for this discussion. Hopefully we can have more some day.

Rickeysha G said...


Indeed. It was interesting. Keep reading! :-)

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