Vin Baker went from an NBA All-Star with lifetime earnings of $100 million to the manager of a Starbucks in Rhode Island — and he couldn’t be happier.
Baker, who averaged 15 points and 7.4 rebounds over the course of his 13-year NBA career, ran into difficulties after his playing days ended including struggles with alcohol and problems with his finances.
But the former NBA All-Star has since gotten clean, and after four years of being sober he has found a new calling in coffee. Baker works at a Starbucks as a barista and is training to manage an entire franchise. He’s getting some help from the company’s CEO, who also happened to own the Seattle SuperSonics where Baker spent the bulk of his career.
While it may be an unconventional path, Baker said he’s now happy.
“When you learn lessons in life, no matter what level you’re at financially, the important part to realize is it could happen,” Baker told the Providence Journal. “I was an alcoholic, I lost a fortune. I had a great talent and lost it. For the people on the outside looking in, they’re like ‘Wow.’ For me, I’m 43 and I have four kids. I have to pick up the pieces. I’m a father. I’m a minister in my father’s church. I have to take the story and show that you can bounce back. If I use my notoriety in the right way, most people will appreciate that this guy is just trying to bounce back in his life.”
Vin Baker’s problems may not all have been of his own doing. Back in 2012, he took legal action against Brodeur & Co. Certified Public Accountants, claiming that they mismanaged his finances from 1997 to 2009. At the time, Baker owed more than $1 million in back taxes to the state of Connecticut and had multiple properties in foreclosure, CNBC.com reported.
While it may be seen as a failure to go from the NBA to working at Starbucks, Baker said he’s not ashamed.
“For me this could have ended most likely in jail or death. That’s how these stories usually end,” he says. “For me to summon the strength to walk out here and get excited about retail management at Starbucks and try to provide for my family, I feel that’s more heroic than being 6-11 with a fade-away jump shot. I get energy from waking up in the morning and, first of all, not depending on alcohol, and not being embarrassed or ashamed to know I have a family to take care of. The show’s got to go on.”
Vin Baker is far from the only riches-to-rags story from the NBA — and not the only player to wind up working at a franchise chain, either. David Harrison, a former McDonald’s All-American and four-year NBA player, ended up working at McDonald’s after struggling with marijuana and mismanaging his salary.
[Picture by Brian Bahr/Getty Images]