Mike Tyson, Antoine Walker, Allen Iverson, John Daly, Latrell Sprewell, Vince Young. They come from all walks of life, different neighborhoods, lifestyles and up-bringings, but they all have one thing in common....they're BROKE! All of these athletes inherited wealth and fame at a young age. They have all had success to some degree in their sport and some have been champions. But at this stage in their life they have all filed bankruptcy. They had the world in the palm of their hands and by many standards have failed. My question is why? What caused these people to lose everything? What influences did they have or not have?
We all know Mike Tyson story....and the hundreds of millions that he has lost. Allen Iverson was said to have owned 6-7 Laborghinis. Latrelle Sprewell turned down a multi-million dollar contract because he said he could not feed his kids on that kind of money. Antoine Walker had massive amounts of gambling debt.
They are all in their late 30's and 40's with so much life ahead, and very little if anything to fall back on. No college degrees, even though the majority of them were all on full ride scholarships. Some of them have been able to turn their fortunes around. Mike Tyson can thank the movie "The Hangover for that". Antoine Walker has tried to make a comeback to the NBA. John Daly continues to play on the PGA tour.
Now lets jump in the time machine and go back to when these guys were 10-15 year old impressionable kids. I am not going to pretend to know or understand the different familial structures that they dealt with. But I will tell you from personal experience that home life is incredibly important. If these impressionable young men are not getting the guidance and support they need at home, they turn to other avenues such as friends, coaches, and unfortunately, many other unsavory characters who only have their own best interests in mind.
Now we have Johnny Manziel. Here is a kid with it all. Just won the Heisman Trophy, comes from a well-to-do family, is on scholarship.....and has been arrested for DUI. Last week he was kicked out of the Manning passing camp. Here is an opportunity for those around this kid to help keep him on a path for life long success. Is he just being a teenage kid? Maybe. But habits develop at this time and this is the one chance he will get to develop successful habits that will carry him through his professional career to his post career.
Lastly, whose responsibility is it to help these young people be successful not only in their professional careers, but also post-professional? I would say that it is all of our responsibility, especially the friends and coaches. I have coached young people from 10 years old all the way through high school. I felt a great sense of responsibility to develop those kids athletically as well as socially, mentally, etc. I felt the need to be a good example to them, to listen to them and to gain their trust. Many of these young people are now in their mid 20's. They are starting families, lives, and careers of their own and I still have close relationships with many of them. I am honored to have been and continue to be a part of these young peoples lives. The pay off for me may never be monetary, but that's not what its about, for me its seeing these young people be SUCCESSFUL!