Many professional athletes earn an exorbitant amount of money. By reading many of the stories about what some of them choose to spend their cash on (some of which can be found on this website), it's easy to form the impression that pro athletes are a bunch of free-spending, irresponsible man-children without a single iota of a moral compass or fiscal judgment. This image is bolstered by periodic reports of once-rich superstars declaring bankruptcy, like in the case of Warren Sapp.
That's why it's always refreshing to hear accounts of athletes who funnel their funds toward a noble purpose. While philanthropy is the choice of some players, others decide to keep their money close to home. More specifically, there are those athletes who choose to purchase a house for their mothers.
The "buy Mom a house" sentiment is a common one among athletes who dream of turning pro. Unfortunately, stories of players actually following through on those promises are few and far between, most likely because of the long odds of nabbing an opportunity to get paid to play a sport. Though we yearn for more stories of this nature, it is their rarity that makes them even more memorable - especially when we learn about how much adversity that the recipients of these gifts had to overcome in order to simply raise a young man to adulthood (often singlehandedly), much less assist him on his path to athletic greatness.
It's not hard to figure out why these athletes choose to make these purchases. After all, these are the women who sacrifice so much to care for and protect their children while keeping them away from the constant temptations of crime and other antisocial behaviors. With that in mind, here are ten stories of professional athletes who chose to allocate some of their hard-earned salary toward putting a safe, sturdy roof over their mother's heads.
8 Ray Rice - Baltimore Ravens
Ray Rice was concerned about his football future in Baltimore in 2012. But after being given the franchise tag in the offseason, Rice signed a five-year, $40 million contract with the Ravens in July of that year. The peace of mind the deal brought him was enough for him to purchase a new house for his mother. But one wonders what Rice's mom might think of her son's behavior earlier this year. The day after Valentine's Day, Rice was arrested along with his fiancee in Atlantic City, New Jersey after an altercation at a casino. Both were charged with simple assault, but TMZ posted a video that may tell a different story...
7 Michael Vick, Philadelphia Eagles
Speaking of questionable behavior... At least give credit to Michael Vick for making good on his vow to buy his mother, Brenda Boddie, a house. After leaving Virginia Tech at the conclusion of the 2000 season, he reportedly bought the home in an upscale part of Suffolk, Virginia with money from endorsements, as well as his first contract with the Atlanta Falcons after they selected him with the first overall pick. You know what happened a few years later, Vick was indicted on state and federal dogfighting charges in 2007 and later pled guilty. Shortly before going to prison, Vick declared bankruptcy and since he was unable to afford the $4,700 per month mortgage payment on his mother's home, the house had to be put up for sale. To make matters worse, Boddie's $100,000 per year salary vanished because she was working for Vick's company, which also went belly-up.
7. Marcus Stroman, New Hampshire Fisher Cats (AA)
Stroman wins the award for the "lowest paid athlete in recent memory to pay for his mother's home." The former Duke University standout reportedly paid off the mortgage on the house owned by his mom, Adlin Auffant, in September of last year. He posted the video of his mother opening the notice on Instagram, adding, "Paid off my mom's house mortgage! Nothing like giving back to the ones you LOVE! Excited I'm in the position to do so. Wouldn't be where I am today without my parents! #familyfirst #LOVE @aauffant.”
One of the top prospects in the Toronto Blue Jays' system, Stroman is kick-starting his career after being banned for 50 games in late 2012 after testing positive for a banned stimulant.
6 Kam Chancellor, Seattle Seahawks
Before he helped his team earn their first-ever Super Bowl title, Kam Chancellor received a five-year, $34 million from the club contract last April. The Virginia Tech grad used the money to purchase a new house for Karen Lambert, a single mom who raised five children besides Kam. Chancellor also purchased a new car for Lambert, and he even staged the entire presentation. After buying the house and car, Chancellor drove his mother to the new home, where she saw the white Lexus with the bow around it. The ecstatic Lambert tried to open the car door, which was locked; and Chancellor told her that she had to get the keys from the owner inside the home. When the two knocked on the door, it was answered by Lambert's children, nieces, nephews, and others yelling, "Surprise!" (We saw that tear in your eye. It's okay, it's a cool story).
5 Fred Jackson, Buffalo Bills
The home purchase was actually preordained by Jackson. After watching the football movie The Program, when he was just 12 years old, young Fred turned to his mother and informed her that he would buy her a house when he got to the NFL. It didn't look like he would get to fulfill his promise, however. Jackson never started a varsity football game in high school, and played his college ball at Coe College, a Division III school in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Following stints with the Sioux City Bandits of the Arena Football League and NFL Europa's Rhein Fire, Jackson finally made the Bills squad and earned a starting spot. After signing a two-year contract extension in May of 2012, Jackson took his mom to what he told her was a friend's home. When his mother noticed pictures of Jackson's kids on the wall, she figured out that the house actually belonged to her.
4 Ace Sanders, Jacksonville Jaguars
Props to Sanders who pulled the trigger on his mother's new home in his rookie season. The Jags wideout signed a four-year, $2.61 million contract with the team in April, but decided to wait until the holiday season to deliver the gift to his mother. Just six days before Christmas, Sanders presented his mother Twanda with the keys to a $300,000 four-bedroom, three-bathroom home in Tampa, not far from where Ace grew up. He then tweeted about the event the following day:
3 D.J. Fluker, San Diego Chargers
The house that the rookie bought for his mother, Aeriel, took on some extra significance for the 6'5", 340-pound Fluker. Because there were times during his life when he didn't have a house of his own. It started when their Ninth Ward house in New Orleans was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. The family limped to Mobile, Alabama, where Fluker spent five weeks of his sophomore year sleeping in a cramped Chrysler with the rest of his family (because his aunt's husband wouldn't let them sleep in his large house). Then in college, Fluker's second-story apartment was leveled by a tornado that hit Tuscaloosa not long after Fluker had gone out to visit a friend. But after being taken by San Diego as the #11 pick in the 2013 draft, he purchased the 3,000 square-foot home in West Mobile for his mother and siblings.
2 E'Twaun Moore, Orlando Magic
Moore is only in his third season in the NBA and he's averaging just 6.2 points per contest for the woeful magic. But Moore scored big this past summer when he bought a new home for his mother Edna and his dad Ezell - marking the first time that Moore's family had ever lived inside a house. Growing up in New Chicago, Indiana just nine miles from Gary, E-Twaun and his family bounced around from apartment to apartment in the projects. Moore credits his parents with using tough love and discipline, and for forbidding E-Twaun from being out on the gang-ridden streets at night, as keys to his success. The four-level house even has a mancave for his brother and father to play pool.
1 Benni McCarthy, Orlando Pirates
No, the Florida city of Orlando doesn't have a pro soccer team, well they haven't played yet. The Pirates play in the Premier League of South African soccer, and McCarthy has played two seasons in Orlando after thirteen years as a European footballer. The good news is that McCarthy performed well enough during that time to be able to afford a house for his mom in the suburbs of Cape Town. McCarthy became the only South African to win a UEFA Champions League medal. The bad news is, McCarthy is now divorced and saw his father pass away in 2008. Moreover, he claims that African footballers who played in Europe during his career were consistently subjected to racial hatred. Still, he's one of South Africa's top-earning athletes in history.