Former West Virginia and current St. Louis Rams receiver Tavon Austin recently said that he can't believe how many people are crawling out of the woodwork asking for money now that he's set up as the eighth-selected player in the 2013 NFL draft. "Everybody wants to be around you," Austin told the Rams' official website. "My phone doesn’t stop ringing now. It feels like they’re counting my bank account now. So that’s probably the hardest thing for me."
If Austin wants to know how tough it can really get, he should talk to Dallas Cowboys left tackle Tyron Smith, who was selected with the ninth pick in the 2011 draft out of USC. Smith signed a four-year, $12.5 million deal and went about becoming one of the best young blockers in the game. Considering what he was going through, it's amazing that Smith would be able to get his head together enough to find the field at all. As he recently told the Dallas Morning News, Smith agreed to pay his stepfather, Roy Pinkney, and his mother, Frankie Pinkney, a substantial sum of money in four installments to insure that they would want for nothing. But that wasn't good enough for the Pinkneys, or some of Smith's own siblings.
“There was a certain amount I agreed to give them, but it went way beyond that and I was just like, ‘I’m done,’” Smith said. “I feel like I shouldn’t have given them so much. There was nothing wrong with helping them out and making sure they were taken care of, but not something to where they live the same lifestyle as you.”
According to the Morning News story (and as we recalled on Shutdown Corner at the time), things got a lot worse when Smith tried to set some boundaries.
Last October, John Schorsch — Smith’s Dallas-based attorney at the time — said Smith’s “mom and/or the stepdad threatened the physical well-being of Tyron and the life of his girlfriend.” Smith filed a protective order against his parents last summer to keep them from having any contact with him. The order also prohibits contact from Smith’s parents through his siblings. During training camp last year in Oxnard, Calif., one of Smith’s brothers whom he said he hadn’t talked to “in a long time” showed up and had to be removed from the facility.
Six months ago, his attorney said, Smith discovered that his family had taken more than $1 million from him. “There was money missing, but I just don’t know where it went,” Smith said in the report. “There were times I would check my statements and it wouldn’t make sense and I hadn’t authorized it at all. I just felt betrayed and I was like, ‘Who can I trust?’”
Smith had been using a financial advisor recommended by his parents.
And last season, when Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett told Smith that he'd be moving from right to left tackle, he texted his family to share the good news. Of course, since left tackles generally make a lot more in their second NFL contracts than do right tackles, you can guess where their focus was.
“They were already looking forward to the next contract, talking about things they wanted to get already,” Smith said. “I was like I haven’t even got there and there’s not even a sure thing that I will. And that was all that was coming out of their mouth.”
As the report indicates, Smith is a good kid with the right attitude ... but there's only so much one can do. He hopes to reconcile with his family someday, but things will obviously have to change on the other end, and it's fair to wonder if his family isn't beyond hope.
“If all the incidents stop,” Smith said about what it would take for that reconciliation to happen, “and they just give me the space that I’ve asked for.
"The takeaway from this is don’t let people take advantage of you. And it’s all right to say no to certain people.”