This morning, Virginia news station WCYB posted this insightful article on Antoine Walker. The former NBA star is noted for his immense financial difficulties despite lifetime earnings of over $108 million USD. (That's about a billion Canadian dollars these days, for those north of the border.) He's been covered in the media a few times recently, from the initial announcement of his bankruptcy to his decision to start offering advice to young players on how not to follow his path.*
While Walker was ordered to pay $750,000 in gambling debts, this was far from the cause of his bankruptcy. $750,000 is a lot of money by any reasonable estimate, but out of $108 million, it's not crippling. Walker's scuppered real estate investments, lack of financial awareness, culturally fostered flashy lifestyle, and tendency to support others were almost certainly far greater factors in his problems.
Something none of the articles mentions in any detail but that is always worth bringing up in these contexts is that although $108 million looks impressive, the after-tax figure is far less. Regardless, Walker still had a lot of money.
WCYB's article sums up Walker's message in two financial advisory bullet points, both offered by the man himself:
1) Get the word "no" in your vocabulary when dealing with friends and family. "Be prepared to use that word a lot," he said.
2) Think about the future, not just the here and now. "You can still enjoy your life to the fullest, but let's preserve some of that wealth for your kids -- and for their kids," Walker said.
They're good lessons. I still see a lot of people not utilizing the second one. They're only a small part of what Walker's had to learn since retirement, though. This should be an interesting case study for years to come. It's not so much because of his financial difficulties - many other pro athletes have gone bankrupt, and for many reasons - but because of how open he is about them. Sure, from time to time a comparable case study emerges, such as this one about former NBA guard Erick Strickland, but the sheer magnitude of resources on Walker's finances is a treasure trove for anyone looking to learn about pro athletes' finances.
Although I always thought Walker slacked off a little on defence, this is obviously a little more serious. I have to admire the man for being so open about his struggles. May we all learn a little from this, whether about our own finances or as a way to get more interested in business.
*Hilariously, this article says Walker had to "liquidize" assets. "Liquidize" means, of course, to turn something into a liquid. I suspect the author meant "liquidate". Unless, of course, molten gold was involved...