Well here we go again!
Yet another very sad article about professional athletes struggling with their transition from the playing days to “Life after the Game.
While it’s tempting and almost irresistible to chuckle at these all to common “Rags to Riches to Rags” stories… it’s all to real and happens all to often.
As a former professional athlete who is working with athletes (I am a board member with the Retired NBA Players) in helping them with their transition into real every day life, I see first hand how the athletes struggle and fall by the wayside. Keep in mind that the general public only hears about the high profile ones who struggle while the other 95% of retiring professional athletes fly under the radar…. yes, struggle just the same.
My emphasis and focus is always on making sure that the athletes get their education and degrees to enhance their odds of success in life. The athletes have to realize that they are a commodity, and that “system” that they come through (AAU, high school, university and professional) are going to use them for the talents the athletes can provide (albeit in exchange for athletic scholarships and huge million dollar contracts) and once they are no longer valued for their athletic value, the athlete is “retired and put out to pasture”, not unlike everyone else who works in corporate America.
We’re going to hear and see more and more stories like this in the oncoming years because fewer and fewer athletes are prepared for life after the game, and the millions of dollars that are dangled in front of them is just to tempting to pass up on.
I remember one of my great mentors told me once that “when you have a fool and give him a million dollars and a few cents… all you end up with is a fool with a million dollars and very little common sense”.
I hope to get involved with the NBA Player Development programs and do even more to help out and do what we can do. Ultimately, the choices and decisions made by the athletes have to be better choices and decisions. We can do that by surrounding them with mentors, positive role models, better teachers/coaches and encouraging the athletes to develop a plan for success and stick to it.
Listen to James speak on life after the game
Former NBA All Star