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Antoine Walker has become a precautionary tale for NBA youngsters.
Antoine Walker's story has become something of a precautionary tale for young athletes.
Walker, a three-time All-Star, earned well over $100 million in salary throughout his 13-year NBA career. Yet somehow, the former star lost it all, declaring bankruptcy in 2009 (per Hoopsworld's Steve Kyler).
A number of things led to Walker's bankruptcy—a huge entourage, lavish spending, gambling debts—but one of the biggest factors was his investment in real estate.
According to ESPN's Mark Schwarz, Walker pumped more than $10 million into investment properties, entrusting his portfolio to an old (and completely incompetent) friend named Fred Billings.
Walker later told ESPN's First Take (via NewsOne.com):
There’s probably like 7 to eight banks that we had loans with. And it kind of hit me all at once. I had to pay back the money. Everybody’s situation is different. But that’s pretty much what down-spiraled mine. Just bad real estate investments.
When he was asked if he blamed his financial advisers for his mistakes, he said:
No. I don’t blame them. I blame more so myself. I think the one thing…that is difficult to do is to do investments while playing basketball. I think if it was one thing I would tell any young guy or anyone who’s playing and making money right now is to wait until the end of your career and start investing and start making money off the field or off the court.
Walker's decision to leave his investments to an inexperienced friend was a poor one and sadly one that's all too common among pro athletes. Hopefully, young, successful athletes can learn from from his story.