In 2008, the NBA Players’ Association claimed that 60 percent of pro basketball players go broke within five years of retirement. It’s not hard to see why. In the annals of “easy come, easy go,” few people see it come and go like professional athletes.
While it’s true that many take their salaries and invest them in sensible and enduring business ventures, many others squander their multimillion-dollar salaries on expensive cars, jewelry and mansions, and when the checks stop coming in, they have little to show for it.
Basketball player Latrell Sprewell first made headlines during his tenure with the Golden State Warriors. During a 1997 practice, he choked his coach, P.J. Carlesimo, and earned a 68-game suspension. Sprewell still went on to a substantial career, earning almost $100 million.
|Slideshow: Broke sports stars|
It all came to an end when he turned down a three-year contract extension from the Minnesota Timberwolves worth $30 million. According to Sprewell, this was simply not enough money. He said, “I have a family to feed … [team owner Glen Taylor] better cough up some money. Otherwise, you’re going to see these kids in one of those Sally Struthers commercials soon.” (Sprewell was referencing ChildFund International commercials, which provided sponsorship to deprived children around the world.)
The Timberwolves’ upper management, unmoved by his family’s tragic situation, didn’t offer him one more cent, and by the end of the 2005 season, he was unemployed. By 2007, his yacht, “Milwaukee’s Best,” had been repossessed by federal marshals after missed payments and insurance worth over $1 million. In 2008, he defaulted on the mortgage on his Milwaukee home, sending it into foreclosure. His Westchester mansion went into foreclosure two years later.
For a while, no boxer on earth was as feared as “Iron Mike” Tyson. The powerful puncher won his first 19 professional fights by knockout, some of which took place during the first round. He quickly became the heavyweight champion of the world, but in 1992 he was convicted of sexual assault and served three years in prison. When he got out, no amount of comeback matches could get him back his mojo, and after biting off a piece of Evander Holyfield’s ear during a 1997 fight, Tyson was disqualified. He never again won another championship.
Money shouldn’t have been a problem for Tyson. After all, according to the New York Times, he had earned more than $400 million in his boxing career. However, he had spent almost all of it, frittering it away on extravagances like mansions, luxury cars and pet tigers. He also owed $9 million for his divorce settlement and $13 million to the IRS. When he filed for bankruptcy in 2003, he claimed debts of $27 million.
Click ahead to see more of the pro athletes who had it all and lost it all.