October 03, 2012
ESPN debuted its new "30 for 30" series with "Broke," a documentary on athletes who went from rags to riches to rags -- and UK basketball players were paying attention.
Director Billy Corben said in a recent ESPN podcast that he hoped the numerous athletes who went broke after earning millions would serve as a cautionary tale for athletes with potential future earnings. The documentary certainly caught the attention of a few UK players, who were tweeting through the show:
The documentary, which featured former Wildcats Antoine Walker (an example of a player who filed for bankruptcy after making hundreds of millions in his playing career) and Jamal Mashburn (an example of a player who parlayed his professional career into business success with smart decisions), told numerous stories of players who, through a combination of factors, lost everything they had gained. Whether it was from a greedy support system to mismanagement of their money to their competitive nature leading them to live beyond their means, a wide array of athletes squandered their career earnings.
Will the documentary make a lasting, tangible impact for the student-athletes who watched it? Who knows. I honestly don't think anyone can possibly know how they'll react when, overnight, you morph into a millionaire in your early 20s.
The documentary is not their only exposure to the perils of fame and money; John Calipari often tells future NBA draft picks to put away a substantial part of that first paycheck, and former Wildcats talk about veterans trying to advise and counsel them. But maybe the documentary, and watching the streams of former athletes who ended up with nothing (at least financially) to show for their years of hard work, will plant a seed in their minds.
Or maybe it's just nearly impossible to prepare for until you actually experience the instantaneous swelling of your bank account.