April 14, 2009

As the music swells somehow stronger from adversity
Our hero finds his inner peace

Barry Stone, Ball and Hoop Brooklyn, 2005

* New article, not a new problem: many professional athletes have a hard time handling their money. excerpt:

"What happens to many athletes and their money is indeed hard to believe. In this month alone Saints alltime leading rusher Deuce McAllister filed for bankruptcy protection for the Jackson, Miss., car dealership he owns; Panthers receiver Muhsin Muhammad put his mansion in Charlotte up for sale on eBay a month after news broke that his entertainment company was being sued by Wachovia Bank for overdue credit-card payments; and penniless former NFL running back Travis Henry was jailed for nonpayment of child support.

"In a less public way, other athletes from the nation's three biggest and most profitable leagues—the NBA, NFL and Major League Baseball—are suffering from a financial pandemic. Although salaries have risen steadily during the last three decades, reports from a host of sources (athletes, players' associations, agents and financial advisers) indicate that:

" --By the time they have been retired for two years, 78% of former NFL players have gone bankrupt or are under financial stress because of joblessness or divorce.

"--Within five years of retirement, an estimated 60% of former NBA players are broke."
"Children almost always complicate the issue. How to limit paternity obligations is a challenge for pro athletes. Former NBA forward Shawn Kemp (who has at least seven children by six women) and, more recently, Travis Henry (nine by nine) have seen their fortunes sapped by monthly child-support payments in the tens of thousands of dollars. Last month Henry, who reportedly earned almost $11 million over seven years in the NFL, tried and failed to temporarily reduce one of his nine child-support payments by arguing that he could no longer afford the $3,000 every month. Two weeks later he was jailed for falling $16,600 behind in payments for his child in Frostproof, Fla."
"When former NBA guard Kenny Anderson filed for bankruptcy in October 2005, he detailed how the estimated $60 million he earned in the league had dwindled to nothing. He bought eight cars and rang up monthly expenses of $41,000, including outlays for child support, his mother's mortgage and his own five-bedroom house in Beverly Hills, Calif.—not to mention $10,000 in what he dubbed 'hanging-out money.' He also regularly handed out $3,000 to $5,000 to friends and relatives. (Along with Ismail, he enlisted as both a Slamball coach and a Pros vs. Joes participant last year.) Former big league slugger Jack Clark filed for bankruptcy in July 1992 while still playing, listing debts of $6.7 million and ownership of 18 cars—17 of which still had outstanding payments.

"Financial advisers have come to call it 'the problem of the $20,000 Rolex.' If a 22-year-old spends $20,000 on a watch or on a big night out at a nightclub, that money is either depreciating or gone. 'But if they invested in a five percent, Triple A insured, tax-free municipal bond for a period of 30 years,' money manager Seymour says, 'that $20,000 would be worth $86,000 at that tax-free rate of return. And needless to say, they buy more than one $20,000 Rolex.'

"Four years ago future NBA Hall of Famer Scottie Pippen unsuccessfully sued his former law firm for allegedly losing $27 million of his money through poor investments. (He had earned about $110 million in salary alone over a 17-year career.) In February 2007—around the same time as Pippen's failed NBA comeback attempt—the Missouri Court of Appeals upheld a ruling that the player owed U.S. Bank more than $5 million in principal, interest and attorneys' fees from a dispute regarding a Grumman Gulfstream II corporate jet that he'd purchased in 2001.

"In an era in which banks are lambasted for using taxpayers' money to fly their executives on luxury private planes, it's a smart bet for players not to use their own cash to do the same. 'In this economy, especially, the goal shouldn't be living that kind of lifestyle or trying to get richer,' says West. 't needs to be about trying to maintain the wealth.'"

* Twofer Tuesday (Bonnie Prince Billy video edition):

-- Wai, from Lawrence, Kansas April 7, 2009.

-- Performing a song, with Dawn McCarthy, as McCarthy holds her baby in her arms. From Orchard Spotlight in Santa Rosa, March 29, 2009.

* RIP Mark Fidrych.

* "The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it." -- Flannery O'Connor


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