The story of the professional athlete burning through ridiculous amounts of money and ending up bankrupt borders on a cliché. It happens too often, not as often as critics may like to think, but plenty.
However, few blew through money like Antoine Walker.
Walker earned $108 million over the course of his 12-year, All-Star NBA career. He blew through all of it. He had to sell his championship ring due to bankruptcy. There may even be a documentary about it.
Walker talked to CNN money about blowing through the money.
As with many other sports stars, instant wealth meant instant luxury for Walker. Instead of thinking about the future, he spent lavishly on cars, jewelry and homes. “I created a very expensive lifestyle. That’s how you lose your wealth real bad at the beginning,” Walker said.
Given his humble beginnings, Walker wanted his friends and family to enjoy his riches as well. He estimates he helped about 30 people move to “better situations.” He gave cash to many of them — often without holding them accountable.
“I gave them whatever they wanted and spoiled them. You can’t do that,” Walker said. “It ended up being an open ATM throughout my career.”
Walker had a serious gambling problem as well, which has long been rumored to be the big reason his fortune disappeared. However, he said the real issue was the collapse of Walker Ventures, his Chicago real estate firm, during the great recession.
“We got caught in the recession. We had a ton of undeveloped real estate. It went bad. The banks wanted their money back,” he said.
Walker now works to get young athletes to take better care of their money than he did. The best agents try to do this as well, with varying degrees of success. But any athlete can have trouble — Tim Duncan is suing his former financial advisor.