A four-time NBA All-Star and Olympic gold-medal winner (2000), Baker ended his professional basketball career with the Los Angeles Clippers after the 2005-06 season.
Since then, he’s battled alcoholism and financial missteps, gotten sober and become a pastor. His latest move, as McNamara reports, is setting a course toward becoming the full-time manager of a Starbucks in North Kingstown, Rhode Island.
“I love North Kingstown,” Baker told McNamara. “It reminds me of my hometown, so it’s comfortable. I like this community. Starbucks draws a lot of repeat customers, and so many know me now.”
Baker is currently working behind the counter as a barista and learning the ropes of the business at an operational level. It’s not the most traditional gig for a guy who earned $100 million playing basketball at the highest level, but he says it’s part of his overall plan for personal redemption:
“When you learn lessons in life, no matter what level you’re at financially, the important part to realize is it could happen. I was an alcoholic, I lost a fortune. I had great talent and lost it. For the people on the outside looking in, they’re like ‘Wow.’ For me, I’m 43 and I have four kids. I have to pick up the pieces. I’m a father. I’m a minister in my father’s church. I have to take the story and show that you can bounce back. If I use my notoriety in the right way, most people will appreciate this guy is just trying to bounce back in his life.”
Baker credits his opportunity at Starbucks to company CEO Howard Schultz, who owned the Seattle SuperSonics during his four-season stretch on the team from 1997-2002.
As for basketball, nowadays Baker is still trying to catch on with an NBA team in a coaching capacity. Until he gets that call, however, he’s minding the roast and slowly taking over the caffeine cartel.
It’s crazy to hear some of these stories of athletes who had everything and then lost it all… It sucks that sometimes everything has to be taken away for someone to truly realize what they had. Here is a list of athletes that had everything going for them only to hit rock bottom by losing everything and going bankrupt.
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.
Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick is almost as well known for his activities off the field as he is for his achievements on the it. Prior to joining the Eagles, he played for the Atlanta Falcons, who had signed him to a record $62 million six-year contract, as well as a $3 million signing bonus. Then, three years later, he signed a ten-year extension worth $130 million, making him the highest-paid player in the NFL.
Everything seemed to be smooth sailing for Michael Vick until he went to prison for his participation in an illegal interstate dog fighting ring in 2007. The prison sentence sidelined him for almost two years, and during that time he lost his regular NFL salary and all of his endorsements, including a lucrative Nike sponsorship. The lack of income, combined with his own financial mismanagement, forced Vick to declare bankruptcy from federal prison.
3. KENNY ANDERSON
Kenny Anderson earned an estimated $60 million during his NBA career after playing for nine different teams. He was married three times, and the divorce from his first wife, Tami Akbar, had cost him dearly. She successfully challenged their prenuptial agreement and walked away with half his assets and $8,500 a month in child support. To celebrate her court victory, she had a custom license plate made that read “HISCASH.”
In addition to monthly child support and alimony payments to Akbar, Anderson was also supporting six other children and two other ex-wives, as well as making monthly payments on his mother’s house. He also owned eight cars and an estate in Beverly Hills, and gave himself a $10,000-a-month allowance that he referred to as “hanging out money”. At the time of his bankruptcy filing, he had $41,000 in monthly expenses to pay.
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.
It all came to an end when he turned down a 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.
Lawrence “L.T.” Taylor is considered one of the all-time NFL greats. The former New York Giants linebacker was drafted in 1981 and began winning awards almost immediately, including three Defensive Player of the Year awards and a 1986 Most Valuable Player award. He was also part of the “Big Blue Wrecking Crew,” the formidable Giants defense that made their Super Bowl victories possible.
Taylor filed for bankruptcy in 1998, literally to keep a roof over his head. According to the Daily News, Taylor was a full year behind on his mortgage payments at the time of the filing. However, his record on the field always spoke for itself, and his financial woes didn’t stop him from being inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1999, just one year after declaring bankruptcy. His personal troubles didn’t end there, however, with a traffic-related arrest in 2009 and statutory rape charges during a 2010 trial. He was sentenced to six years probation and had to register as a level one sex offender in 2011.
Antoine Walker currently plays for the Idaho Stampede in the NBA’s development league. In a career lasting 15 years with five different NBA teams, he’s collected one NBA championship and reportedly earned $110 million.
However, in May 2010, he filed for bankruptcy, claiming assets of $4 million and liabilities of almost $13 million. The filing lists a $2 million house in Miami with a mortgage of almost $4 million.
Walker’s problems stem in large part from gambling. In 2009, he was arrested and charged with writing $800,000 worth of bad checks to three Las Vegas casinos.
While many athletes jump from team to team, Tony Gwynn played for just one, the San Diego Padres, for his entire professional career. During that time he distinguished himself as one of the most reliable batters in Major League Baseball, striking out only 434 times in over 9,000 career at-bats, and never once batting below .300 in any full season.
He earned a high salary with the Padres, but during his sixth season he filed for bankruptcy, citing bad investments, poor accounting and $1 million in back taxes. At the time of the filing, his assets totaled approximately $700,000, while his liabilities totaled over $1.1 million.