Former NBA star Latrell Sprewell is the latest professional athlete to run into post-career financial problems. Several websites are reporting the retired basketball star has blown through his fortune.
“During the course of his career, Latrell Sprewell made over $100 million. Today, Celebrity NetWorth reports that he has around $50,000 and lives in a modest rental,” said Financial Juneteeth.
Sprewell, who was 24th in the 1992 NBA draft, played for several teams, but he was infamous for his altercation with Golden State Warriors coach P.J. Carlesimo. After Carlesimo criticized his passing, Sprewell fought his coach and choked him. He then returned, after showering, and punched Carlesimo, before being dragged away by assistant coaches. He had also previously fought with other teammates, threatening one with a plank of wood and a gun.
However, the choking incident cost Sprewell dearly. He was suspended by the NBA for a year and the Golden State Warriors cancelled the rest of his contract which was worth $23 million over three years.
He was later traded to the New York Knicks and then the Minnesota Timberwolves, where he received negative publicity for turning down a three-year, $21 million-contract extension, claiming it wasn’t enough to take care of his family.
“I have a family to feed … If (team owner Glen) Taylor wants to see my family fed, he better cough up some money. Otherwise, you’re going to see these kids in one of those Sally Struthers commercials (where she solicits donations for starving children in developing countries) soon,” Sprewell said at the time.
Sprewell’s troubled reputation preceded him and other NBA teams saw him as too much of a risk to take on.
“Sprewell played one more year for Minnesota without the contract extension, and played miserably,” Financial Juneteeth reported. “Still thinking higher of himself than the teams or coaches he negotiated with, he was never again able to agree on a salary and has not played professional ball since. So, some might say that his negative attitude caught up with him because no NBA team wants to sign an angry old man whose best days are behind him.”
However, Sprewell’s retirement has been filled with as much bad PR and brushes with the law as his playing career. His daughter was attacked by one of his pit bulls, and he was accused of stealing by a junior college. He was investigated by police for choking a woman on his yacht and also sued by the mother of his four children for $200 million.
Sprewell had several financial problems after he retired. His $1.5 million yacht was seized after he defaulted on a mortgage, and he had two homes foreclosed.
Unfortunately, Sprewell is not the only retired athlete to face financial hardship. Many ex-jocks run into money problems when their income drops from a huge contract to a pension. They still have extensive financial commitments to ex-wives, mothers of their children, family and lavish lifestyles to maintain. Many athletes are also ripped off by unscrupulous advisers, who know their clients don’t understand the complex world of finance.
Former baseball player Torii Hunter told Sports Illustrated financial terms sound like another language to pro athletes.
“Once you get into the financial stuff, and it sounds like Japanese, guys are just like, ‘I ain’t going back.’ They’re lost,” Hunter said.
According to Sports Illustrated, most ex-professional athletes are broke within a few years of retirement.
“By the time they have been retired for two years, 78 percent of former NFL players have gone bankrupt or are under financial stress because of joblessness or divorce,” reported Sports Illustrated. “Within five years of retirement, an estimated 60 percent of former NBA players are broke.”