15 Athletes Gone Bankrupt – Great Athletes Who Went Broke

In 2008, the NBA Players’ Association claimed that 60 percent of pro basketball players go broke within five years of retirement. It’s not hard to see why. In the annals of “easy come, easy go,” few people see it come and go like professional athletes.

While it’s true that many take their salaries and invest them in sensible and enduring business ventures, many others squander their multimillion-dollar salaries on expensive cars, jewelry and mansions, and when the checks stop coming in, they have little to show for it.

Here’s the 15 Athletes Gone Bankrupt:

Mike Tyson

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.


Michael Vick

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.


Michael Vick

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.


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.


Lenny Dykstra

Lenny Dykstra was a three-time All-Star player who graced the rosters of both the New York Mets and the Philadelphia Phillies. Nicknamed “Nails” by fans and seemingly never photographed without a thick wad of chewing tobacco lodged in his jaw, he helped lead the Mets to their 1986 World Series victory.

After retiring, he embarked on a new life as a financial guru, but by 2009, his free-spending lifestyle had caught up with him, and he was so broke that he sold his World Series ring. He ultimately declared bankruptcy, and in the filing he claimed $50,000 in assets and $50 million in liabilities, including money owed to both Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase.


Latrell Sprewell

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 Taylor

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.


Johnny Unitas

In the annals of NFL history, Johnny Unitas is as legendary a player as there is. Nicknamed “The Golden Arm,” his career spanned three decades and saw him set record after record, winning the Most Valuable Player award three times and throwing touchdown passes in 47 consecutive games, a record which still stands today. Off the field, however, it was another story.

The legendary quarterback had attempted to parlay his earnings into shrewd business moves, such as restaurants, real estate ventures and bowling alleys, but these endeavors never performed in the way that he had hoped. Ultimately, he declared bankruptcy in 1991, and when he died in 2002, Unitas Management Corp was also forced to file for bankruptcy to protect itself from an unresolved lawsuit plaguing the Hall of Famer’s estate.


Dorothy Hamill

In 1976, Dorothy Hamill won the Olympic gold medal for women’s figure skating, becoming America’s sweetheart and pitch woman for Short n’ Sassy shampoo in the process. Now a superstar, she followed her victory by headlining the Ice Capades from 1977 to 1984, and later bought the company in 1993 in the hopes of reviving interest in the sport.

Sadly, she could not compete with the ruthless commercial juggernaut that was Disney’s World on Ice, and she sold the company to Pat Robertson’s International Family Entertainment, Inc. in 1995. The failed venture took its toll, and in 1996 the skater had to file for bankruptcy. After treatment for breast cancer in 2008, she got back on her feet, and recently she served as a mentor to 2010 Olympic competitor Rachael Flatt. She also continues to skate semi-professionally.


Jack Clark

Jack Clark played for several baseball teams between 1975 and 1992. Also known as “Jack the Ripper,” he played for the San Francisco Giants, the St. Louis Cardinals, the New York Yankees, the San Diego Padres and the Boston Red Sox. However, in 1992, during his second year with the Sox, he declared bankruptcy, listing debts of almost $7 million, including $400,000 in Federal and state taxes.

When Clark listed his assets in the filing, he cited 18 luxury cars, including a Ferrari, a Rolls Royce and a Mercedes Benz. He owed money on all but one of them. Apparently, Clark quickly got bored with his collection, and when that happened he would just get rid of the ones he no longer cared for and replace them with new ones. The habit ended up costing him his home, which was worth more than $2 million.


Marion Jones

Marion Jones started out as one of the most inspiring stories of the 2000 Summer Olympics in Australia. A track and field athlete, she walked away from the competition with three gold medals and two bronze medals, an unprecedented achievement for a female athlete. However, her ex-husband testified under oath that he had seen her inject steroids into her stomach during the games, and she denied the allegations to both the press and to two grand juries.

Jones eventually confessed to using performance-enhancing drugs in 2007, and it cost her dearly. Not only was she forced to forfeit all of the medals she had won in Sydney, but she was also sentenced to six months in prison. Just a few years earlier, she had earned as much as $80,000 per race, as well as $1 million in endorsements. But now her finances were decimated by legal expenses, and not only was her $2.5 million home in North Carolina foreclosed, but she was forced to sell her mother’s house as well.


Derrick Coleman

When the New Jersey Nets picked Derrick Coleman in the 1990 NBA draft, it seemed like a solid choice. He had been compared to no less a player than Charles Barkley, and it was assumed that he would turn in a similar performance on the court. However, it was not to be. Aside from being frequently injured and missing many games as a result, he also showed a tendency to gain weight and abuse alcohol. Many sportswriters accused Coleman of simply phoning in his performance.

Whatever his shortcomings may have been, Coleman earned over $87 million in his 15-year career, so many people were surprised when he filed for chapter 7 bankruptcy in March 2010. In the filing documents, he listed $1 million in assets, including a Bentley, five fur coats and $3,000 worth of jewelry. His debts totaled more than $4 million, which he owed to almost 100 creditors, including American Express, Verizon and even Detroit Mayor Dave Bing.


Mark Brunell

Quarterback Mark Brunell has played for the New York Jets, the Green Bay Packers and the Jacksonville Jaguars. During his career, he is estimated to have earned over $50 million. However, on June 25, 2010, he filed for bankruptcy, listing over $5 million in assets and nearly $25 million in liabilities.

At issue are multiple lawsuits stemming from failed real estate ventures and business loans from Champion LLC, a company that included fellow Jaguars Todd Fordham and Joel Smeenge. Still, the lawsuit hasn’t hurt his playing career any, and in July 2010, just one month after filing for bankruptcy, Brunell signed a two-year deal to play for the New York Jets.


Scottie Pippen

Scottie Pippen is best remembered for his tenure with the Chicago Bulls. The 2010 Basketball Hall of Fame inductee was there when they won six NBA Championships, and he was there during the 1995-1996 season in which they won 72 games. He is also the only person to win both an NBA championship and an Olympic gold medal in the same year, and he is one of only four players from the Chicago Bulls to have his jersey retired.

Unfortunately, Pippen’s successes on the court couldn’t stop him from losing career earnings worth $120 million, including over $4 million for a corporate jet that was grounded just months after he bought it. He sued his attorneys for $8 million for failing to monitor the purchase, and he won the lawsuit. However, the jury ruled that Pippen bore plenty of responsibility for the purchase himself, and he was awarded only one quarter of the reward that he sought.


Antoine Walker

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.


Tony Gwynn

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.

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15 Athletes Gone Bankrupt – Great Athletes Who Went Broke