As a three-time NBA All-Star with a college basketball championship under his belt, life was pretty good for Antoine Walker. Add in the $108 million he made during his 12 years with the league and the world was his.
Then reality bit two years after playing his final game in the pros. And it bit hard. So much so that former sports star was put in a position where he had to sell his championship ring. Looking back at his rise and fall, Walker admits that the situation is “sad.”
“I thought I was set for the rest of my life,” he told CNNMoney. “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.
“I created a very expensive lifestyle. That’s how you lose your wealth real bad at the beginning.”
During his time on the basketball court, Walker was a standout with the Kentucky Wildcats as he led his team to the 1996 national championship. From there, the Boston Celtics came calling in the 1996 NBA Draft. He was selected sixth overall.
Growing up in Chicago, Walker’s family didn’t have much. Once he attained fame, the 6-9 forward detailed his struggle with saying no to family and childhood friends who asked for money
“I gave them whatever they wanted and spoiled them. You can’t do that,” the now 38-year-old shared with CNNMoney. “I ended up being an open ATM throughout my career.”
Walker’s downward financial spiral continued as he ended up facing felony charges in 2009 for writing bad checks to pay for more than $800,000 in Las Vegas gambling debts. Prior to this, Walker attempted to make positive moves with investments and the launch of his own real estate firm. The business move ended up being a loss as it imploded during the 2008 recession.
In addition, Walker’s use of his personal financial portfolio as collateral was another loss as he wound up paying back about $20 million to banks, the Sporting News noted.
“We had a ton of undeveloped real estate. It went bad,” he said. “The banks wanted their money back.”
Walker’s professional and personal ups and downs were highlighted in a 2014 documentary entitled, “Gone in an Instant: The Antoine Walker Story.”
As it stands now, Walker has managed to slowly climb out of his bankruptcy with hopes that young professional athletes take heed to what he went through
For those athletes, the the former Miami Heat player has some advice: Learn how to say no to friends and family – and use the world a lot – and “live life to the fullest” … BUT… think about the future.
(Photo Source: Antoine Walker Instagram)