David Harrison was once a McDonald’s All-American, a highly touted basketball player who was drafted by the Indiana Pacers and made $4.4 million playing professionally.
Within nine years, he would be working at McDonald’s.
Harrison was the 29th pick of the 2004 draft, averaging exactly 5 points and 2.9 rebounds a game over the course of his four-year career.
But his career was also marked with trouble. As a rookie, Harrison was involved in the infamous “Malice at the Palace” brawl against the Detroit Pistons. He was accused of striking a fan and sentenced to a year of probation.
Eventually Harrison grew upset with his team’s coaching and started smoking marijuana daily, including before and after practices. He tested positive for marijuana during the 2007-08 season and was suspended five games.
Harrison never played beyond his rookie contract, and after three years in China and a brief stint in the D-League, his career came to an end.
But money troubles plagued David Harrison, who eventually ended up working at McDonald’s to make ends meet.
“I was embarrassed because of where I could be in life,” Harrison told Yahoo! Sports. “Everybody has to work and make a living somehow. I have two children. They don’t care where I work. They just need to eat.
“People were showing up trying to take my car. My house was in foreclosure. I didn’t have any income. I just had everything going out. I have child support to one son. I have a really big family and I have to take care of them, even through I’m not playing in the NBA. I needed money.”
Looking back, Harrison said it was his own fault he couldn’t stay in the NBA.
“Pride, that’s where I messed up the most,” Harrison said. “I had too much self pride in my ability. I was just stubborn. The whole weed thing was a war. It was something that occupied my mind. It was me versus the drug program. It was something I could compete in again. At the end of the day, I was 24 years old when it all happened.”
The story of David Harrison working at McDonald’s isn’t all that unusual. In fact, in 2012 ESPN delved into the issue in the documentary Broke, which found that poor money management led a significant number of professional athletes to fall onto hard times shortly after retiring.
Here is some context, from Sports Illustrated: “By the time they have been retired for two years, 78 percent of former NFL players have gone bankrupt or are under financial stress; within five years of retirement, an estimated 60 percent of former NBA players are broke.”
David Harrison no longer works at McDonald’s — he said he quit after two weeks after too many customers recognized him — but is still trying to find full-time work. He has been making some money trading stocks and is looking for an investor for his mobile video game company, but said he’s had no luck so far.
[Image via Bleacher Report]