Who are the NBA Players Who Went Broke? Here is the List!

Jimmy Remland
By Jimmy Remland 10 Min Read
10 Min Read

The world of professional sports, particularly the NBA, is filled with stories of immense wealth and fame. However, it’s also littered with tales of financial ruin. Despite earning millions during their careers, some NBA players have ended up broke due to a variety of reasons, including poor financial decisions, failed investments, and personal issues. This article explores the lives of some prominent NBA players who went broke, shedding light on their journeys and the lessons learned from their financial downfalls.

List of NBA Players Who Went Broke

Antoine Walker

Antoine Walker made over $108 million during his career but lost it all due to gambling, high living expenses, and failed business ventures. His financial troubles were compounded by a series of bad investments and excessive spending on luxury items and family members.

Allen Iverson

Despite earning more than $200 million from his NBA career and endorsements, Allen Iverson faced severe financial difficulties post-retirement. His lavish lifestyle, coupled with a costly divorce and gambling debts, led to his downfall. Iverson’s spending habits included buying expensive jewelry, which he reportedly lost, adding to his financial woes.

Shawn Kemp

Shawn Kemp, known for his high-flying dunks and multiple All-Star appearances, earned nearly $91 million during his career. However, child support payments for his numerous children and legal issues related to drug possession significantly eroded his wealth. Kemp’s financial mismanagement serves as a cautionary tale for many.

Vin Baker

Vin Baker’s story is one of redemption despite a tumultuous financial journey. After making $100 million in the NBA, Baker struggled with alcoholism and bad investments. He later worked at Starbucks to rebuild his life and eventually returned to the NBA as an assistant coach for the Milwaukee Bucks, helping them win an NBA championship in 2021.

Larry Johnson

Larry Johnson, a two-time All-Star, made $83 million in his career but declared bankruptcy due to child support obligations and poor financial decisions. He fathered five children with four different women, leading to substantial child support payments that he struggled to maintain.

Darius Miles

Darius Miles earned $62 million in his NBA career, but a series of bad investments and an extravagant lifestyle led him to declare bankruptcy. Injuries forced him to retire early, and his financial situation worsened due to continued high spending and failed ventures.

Scottie Pippen

Scottie Pippen, despite making over $120 million in his career, faced financial difficulties due to poor investment choices. One notable failed investment was an attempt to buy the Memphis Grizzlies, which cost him millions and led to legal battles with former teammates.

Dennis Rodman

Known for his flamboyant lifestyle, Dennis Rodman made over $26 million during his career but struggled financially due to significant child support and alimony payments. His legal and personal issues further strained his finances, highlighting the impact of lifestyle choices on long-term financial stability.

Mookie Blaylock

Mookie Blaylock faced legal issues and substance abuse problems that drained his finances. In 2013, he was involved in a fatal car crash, leading to a prison sentence and significant financial liabilities.

Jason Caffey

Jason Caffey, who earned over $34 million, faced financial ruin due to owing child support for his ten children with eight different women. Legal battles and poor financial management left him bankrupt, struggling to meet his obligations.


Detailed Analysis of Financial Downfall

Financial Literacy and Management

A significant factor contributing to the financial downfall of many NBA players is a lack of financial literacy. Despite earning millions, many players do not have the necessary knowledge to manage their finances effectively. Poor advice from financial advisors, who may not have the player’s best interests at heart, can lead to disastrous investment decisions. For instance, Scottie Pippen lost a substantial amount of money due to poor investment choices, including an attempt to purchase the Memphis Grizzlies, which ended in a lawsuit and financial loss​​.

Failed Investments

Investing is a common way for athletes to grow their wealth, but it also comes with risks. Many NBA players have seen their fortunes dwindle due to failed investments. Christian Laettner, for example, lost millions in bad real estate deals and owed $14 million to creditors. His failed attempt to purchase the Memphis Grizzlies, alongside Scottie Pippen, further exemplifies how high-risk investments can lead to financial ruin​.

Child support and legal fees are recurring themes among NBA players who went broke. Shawn Kemp, who earned nearly $91 million, found himself in financial distress partly due to child support payments for his six children from different relationships. Similarly, Jason Caffey owed child support for his ten children, which contributed significantly to his financial decline​.

Substance Abuse and Personal Issues

Substance abuse and personal issues also play a critical role in the financial decline of many players. Mookie Blaylock struggled with alcoholism and substance abuse, leading to legal issues and financial losses. His involvement in a fatal car crash in 2013 further exacerbated his financial problems, resulting in a prison sentence and significant liabilities​.

Extravagant Spending

Extravagant spending on luxury items, homes, and cars can quickly deplete even substantial earnings. Allen Iverson is a prime example, having earned over $200 million but facing financial difficulties due to his lavish lifestyle. Iverson’s spending habits, including buying expensive jewelry and maintaining multiple homes, led to severe financial strain post-retirement​​.

Redemption Stories

While many stories end in financial ruin, some players manage to turn their lives around. Vin Baker, after losing his fortune due to alcoholism and bad investments, found redemption by working at Starbucks and later becoming an assistant coach for the Milwaukee Bucks. His story is a testament to resilience and the ability to rebuild one’s life even after significant setbacks.

Importance of Financial Education

These stories highlight the critical need for financial education and planning for professional athletes. Financial literacy programs and better financial management support could help prevent such downfalls. The NBA and other sports leagues could implement mandatory financial education programs to ensure that players are better prepared to manage their wealth.

Earnings and Financial Status of Notable Players

Player Career Earnings Main Causes of Financial Downfall
Antoine Walker $108 million Gambling, high living expenses, failed investments
Allen Iverson $200+ million Lavish lifestyle, gambling debts, costly divorce
Shawn Kemp $91 million Child support payments, legal issues
Vin Baker $100 million Alcoholism, bad investments
Larry Johnson $83 million Child support obligations, poor financial decisions
Darius Miles $62 million Extravagant lifestyle, failed investments
Scottie Pippen $120 million Poor investment choices, failed business ventures
Dennis Rodman $26 million Child support, alimony payments, substance abuse
Mookie Blaylock $34 million Substance abuse, legal issues, car crash
Jason Caffey $34 million Child support obligations, poor financial management

Final Thoughts

The financial downfalls of these NBA players underscore the importance of financial literacy, proper management, and planning. By learning from their stories, future athletes can better navigate the complexities of wealth and ensure long-term financial stability. Financial education programs and advisory services tailored to the unique needs of athletes could play a crucial role in preventing similar situations in the future.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who in the NBA went broke?

Several notable NBA players have gone broke, including Antoine Walker, Allen Iverson, Shawn Kemp, Vin Baker, Larry Johnson, and Darius Miles. These players faced financial ruin due to a combination of extravagant lifestyles, poor financial management, child support obligations, and failed investments.

What NBA player is homeless and broke?

Delonte West, a former NBA player, has struggled with homelessness and financial issues. Despite earning millions during his career, West’s battles with mental health and substance abuse have led to his current situation.

How many ex-NBA players are broke?

It is estimated that a significant number of ex-NBA players face financial difficulties after retirement. According to a 2009 report by Sports Illustrated, around 60% of former NBA players are broke within five years of retiring from the league. Factors contributing to this include poor financial planning, high expenses, and lack of financial literacy.

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