For some, it might be hard to imagine going from $108 million to bust, but this is exactly what happened to former NBA star Antoine Walker. Walker was one of those unforgettable players of the NBA in the late 90s and early last decade. Shortly before turning 20, he had already won an NCAA championship and was selected as the number one pick in the 1996 NBA draft by the Boston Celtics. He later established himself as a star of the league, and was elected to the All-Star Game three times and also became an NBA champion with the Miami Heat in 2006.
During his 12-year NBA career, Walker earned over $108 million. However, as a report from CNN Money points out, like many professional athletes who experience a sudden explosion of wealth, Walker squandered away his fortune in only a short period of time. The 38-year-old had to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in 2010, less than two years after leaving the NBA in May 2010.
“I thought I was set for the rest of my life,” Walker said in an interview. “My story is sad. It’s sad to see other guys work so hard throughout their life — and then they just lose it in two or three years.”
According to NESN, Walker blames his rapid fall from riches to rags on several reasons. He says he foolishly spent money on cars and homes while giving large sums of money to at least 30 people to help get themselves in “better situations” without expecting to be paid back.
“I gave them whatever they wanted and spoiled them,” Walker explained. “You can’t do that. It ended up being an open ATM throughout my career. I created a very expensive lifestyle. That’s how you lose your wealth real bad at the beginning.”
In Las Vegas, Antoine Walker accumulated gambling debts amounting to more than $800,000. In 2011, Walker pleaded guilty to felony bad check charges and was able to avoid jail time due to a plea agreement. However, he was ordered to pay off his massive gambling debts.
After living a lifestyle that led to bankruptcy, Walker decided to try his luck in the minor leagues and signed to play with Guaynabo in Puerto Rico. However, he was cut from the team just a short while later.
So now Antoine Walker is trying to give advice to others so they do not have to go through what happened to him. He says to learn to say no to family and friends when they ask for money and “be prepared to use that word a lot.” He also says to “enjoy your life to the fullest, but let’s preserve some of that wealth for your kids — and for their kids.”
[Image via Elsa/Getty Images Sport]