Success is often fleeting, occasionally enduring and almost always measured in dollar signs when you're a pro athlete. That first contract or big purse is landed by someone who's almost certainly under the age of 25 and less than prepared for the life-changes.
Even if the young pro is ready for the money and fame, it doesn't mean they're immune to the kind of malfeasance that afflicts those who are suddenly flush with cash and swag.
If you've got new money, even if its not an A-list level of cash, as long as its more than another guy has...there are people who have designs on separating you from it. How they do it comes in a variety of forms and pro athletes seem to be the wounded water buffalo to the thieve's lion.
Ponzi schemes, embezzlement, skimming, cooking the books and even good ol' fashioned burglary are just a few examples of the modus operandi the cash-starved use to pilfer athletes of their money and valuables. And there are a plethora of tales...from the sad to the embarrassing.
These are 25 athletes who got totally ripped off.
Former NBA player Jayson Williams had an abysmal career in the league. It last just under a decade and he's mostly remembered for being terrible at basketball and an even worse human being.
Getting into his history of fighting, drunk driving, and manslaughter—he served two years in prison after pleading guilty to the accidental shooting of his chauffeur in 2002—would take far too long.
So let's just say he's terrible and move on to January 2010, in which Williams was finally the victim of a crime, rather than the perpetrator. According to reports, his South Carolina home was robbed of more than $150K worth of sports memorabilia, jewelry and electronics.
Williams said of the incident, "Unfortunately, this is just another episode in my surreal reality, but I'm a fighter." Which is true, bar fighting is one of his favorite activities. What's funny is that he offered a $5K reward for the return of the items—which totally sounds worth it.
Maybe he should've given that money to the family of the man he killed instead? Neah...
Former NFL player Brian Simmons, who was the first round pick of the Bengals in the 1998 NFL draft, was bilked out of $100K in one fell swoop during his career.
According to a US NEWS report, a former Illinois teacher, Linda Frykolm, convinced him to invest in some kind of ridiculous scheme. The enterprising con-woman convinced more than 200 dimwitted investors a 300 percent return on their money.
The scam was called the "United Nation Trade Honduras Project," and Frykolm raised an impressive $15 million in just a week. As you would imagine, the money didn't go to anything useful in Honduras, or anywhere else for that matter.
Instead, Fryklom used the money to finance one helluva a lavish lifestyle. Ultimately she ended up serving 12 years in prison for fraud. And something tells me Simmons really wishes he could get that money back right about now.
Former NBA player Antoine Walker is mostly in the news these days for being the broke ex-boyfriend of toxic gold digger Evelyn Lozada. He claims he's broke because of her, but if he managed to blow $110 million in two years on a girl, well that's on him.
Though long before he was penniless, Walker was a highly paid basketball player who was robbed at gunpoint in his own Chicago home back in July 2007. Police who responded to the aftermath of the robbery confirmed that a car, cash and jewelry were stolen.
Unfortunately for Walker, the case dragged on for years and he finally testified against man who bound him with duct tape in a closet and held a gun to his head during the robbery. There were four men involved in the robbery and all were ultimately convicted.
And that wasn't the first time Walker was robbed. Back when he was playing for the Celtics in July 2000, he was robbed of cash and jewelry at gunpoint on Chicago's South Side while in his vehicle outside a local restaurant.
Imagine looking back at those times as the good old days, which you have to imagine Walker is. Bummer. Bummer to the max.
Hall of Fame wide receiver Art Monk was ripped off not by some shady hedge-fund manager, but someone a little closer to home. He was one of a number of former Redskins' who were defrauded by former teammate Terry Orr.
Orr persuaded his teammates each to invest $50K in his failed, or failing, shoe company. Rather than take the money and actually invest it in the business, Orr decided he'd rather invest the money in himself.
The former tight end used the vast majority of the money to pay off his own personal debts. Wow. So there's no "I" in "team," but there's definitely a "me." At least he didn't get away with it.
In August 2001, Orr was found guilty of defrauding his investors and sentenced to 14 months in prison. It'll be tough to find a job as a convicted felon, but at least he'll have that shoe company to go back to!
In May 2002, Yankees pitching ace, then with the Indians, CC Sabathia and his cousin, Jomar Conners, came face-to-face with some serious trouble after leaving a Cleveland nightspot with a group of people they had met that night.
According to reports, they all returned to their room at the Cleveland Marriott Society Center and two men then held Sabathia and Jomar at gunpoint and robbed them of $44K in cash in jewelry. The gunmen in question were later named as Damon Stringer and Jamaal Harris, basketball stars at Cleveland State University.
They both later pled guilty and served just one year under a plea agreement. Apparently Jamaal Harris didn't learn much of a lesson, considering Ohio state troopers found $30,000 worth of marijuana in his car during a routine traffic stop in July 2011.
And Sabathia is making is still making over $20 million a year. Sometimes success is the best revenge.
Things haven't always gone smoothly for former NBA player Eddy Curry. In fact, they've generally gone quite the opposite. Personal problems, financial problems, and weight problems plagued him throughout his career.
One of the lower points for Curry had to have been when he and his family were robbed at gunpoint his their Chicago home in July 2007. There were no injuries, but he (quite understandably) described it as a "traumatic experience."
The assailant took off with at least $10K in cash from the home and an indeterminate amount of jewelry. In 2011 the thief was sentenced to 13 years in prison for robbing another NBA player that year and is still awaiting trial for the Curry case, among others.
Perhaps if that armed burglar ever gets out of prison, he should consider another line of work. As it seems he isn't terribly gifted at this one.
In January 2008, the house of retired NHL player Sergio Momesso, who was drafted in the second round of the 1981 NHL entry draft, was robbed. When the burglar entered the home in the Montreal suburb of Kirkland, memorabilia was the target.
According to Montreal police reports, the bandit got away with three game-worn jerseys and a diamond-encrusted Stanley Cup ring. The items were said to be some of Momesso's most prized possessions from his career in the league.
There's no word on whether they were ever recovered, which probably means they weren't.
Back when he was still playing with the Giants, wide receiver Steve Smith was the victim of an armed robbery in November 2008.
The incident occurred at his Clifton, N.J., home after a late night. Smith was returning to his townhouse via a chauffeur-driven car when a man approached him from behind and held a gun to his head.
The armed assailant demanded Smith hand over everything in his possession, including his cash, jewelry, and a cell phone.
Sounds like a hellish experience, but thankfully things didn't escalate and Smith escaped unharmed.
Tigers center fielder Torri Hunter sure doesn't know a terrible business investment when he hears one. He was at the height of his career in 2005 when he was approached by someone looking for cash to fund the development of a "can't miss" invention.
According to a Sports Illustrated report in 2009, Hunter invested upwards of $70K in "an inflatable raft that would sit under furniture." Apparently the pitch was something along the lines "that when high-rainfall areas were flooded, consumers could pump up the device, allowing a sofa to float and remain dry."
It's so simple! And yet flooding remains a danger to couches to this very day. In Hunter's defense, when the scammer came back later asking for $500K, and he said no freaking way. Fool me once, shame on me…fool me twice…etc.
It doesn't seem entirely accurate to describe Javaris Crittenton as "retired" from the NBA, given that he's only 25 years old.
But he's certainly not playing at the moment, or perhaps ever again, because in April 2013 he was indicted for the murder of Atlanta woman Julian Jones, a mother of two, and the attempted murder of another man in August 2011.
According to various reports, Crittenton is said to have gang connections and the murder was retaliation for $55K worth of stolen jewelry. Months earlier Crittenton and a friend were leaving a barbershop when two teenagers accosted them at gunpoint and took off with two pieces of jewelry, an iPhone and $25 in cash.
Wow. Indicted for murder? And it seems like just yesterday he and former teammate Gilbert Arenas were threatening each other in the Wizards locker room with firearms. Who could've seen this one coming? Oh, everyone? My bad.
Don't worry, you didn't miss any big Tiger Woods gossip recently. The PGA legend was robbed, but it was back in late 1994 when he was a freshman at Stanford. The same year he won the U.S. Amateur Golf Championship.
According to a news release issued by the university, Woods the victim of a late-night robbery outside of a Stanford dormitory. The perpetrator reportedly grabbed the golfer from behind, held a knife to his throat, and stole his watch and neck chain.
Woods wasn't seriously injured, but he was struck with the handle of the knife as the assailant made his escape. He said he was sore after the assault, but really played it down. Said Woods of the obviously very scary incident:
"People get mugged every day, and mine was just an isolated incident. I just want to move on from this, bury this in the past. I just want to get through finals, enjoy a great Christmas and then come back."
Damn Tiger! I guess he's always been ridiculously private.
In July 2005, former Eagles defensive end Jerome McDougle was the victim of a violent robbery in Miami, just days before the start of training camp. According to reports, he was approached by three boys (ranging in age from 15 to 19) while parked in his Mercedes just before midnight.
The teens were obviously intending to rob McDougle, but apparently one of them panicked as he reached for his wallet and shot him in the stomach. They escaped with a watch worth $20K and McDougle was airlifted to the hospital in critical condition to undergo emergency surgery.
But it wasn't all bad news because eventually he did recover. when McDougle was released from the hospital just over a week later, the police announced the teenagers who accosted him were in arrested and in police custody.
Hopefully, they were put away for quite awhile because if you're willing to shoot someone for a watch, there's probably not much you wouldn't do.
In June 2000, former Nets superstar Stephon Marbury was heading to his car after leaving a Manhattan nightclub just before 4:00 a.m. Within moments of entering his Bentley, Marbury was surprised by two assailants who came at him from either side of his vehicle.
According to police reports, the men didn't brandish a weapon, but were able to catch Marbury off guard and snatch a $150k diamond necklace he was wearing through an open window. Thankfully, he escaped without injury.
That's the good news. That bad news is that athletes still continue these audacious displays of wealth, rather than buying up savings bonds...or whatever people that aren't my grandmother do to save money.
NFL free agent quarterback A.J. Feeley and his wife Heather Mitts, a U.S. women's soccer star, were among several professional athletes who fell victim to crooked financial advisor William Crafton Jr.
They weren't the first or the last victims of Crafton's financial fraud, but they were among the first to file a lawsuit in federal court against him.
According to court documents, Feeley and Mitts accused him of, among other things, "fraudulent misrepresentation and bad-faith breaches of fiduciary duties." The couple's attorney stated his client's losses were upwards of $8 million.
The lawsuit was filed in August 2012, so the case is obviously still ongoing. And will probably be ongoing for years to come as it crawls its way through the endless maze that is the U.S. legal system.
In April 2013, Heat big man Chris Bosh celebrated his birthday with an event so lavish that Henry VIII would have found it "a bit excessive." Teammates LeBron James and Dwyane Wade and rappers Ne-Yo and Flo Rida were among the guests at the star-studded party.
The soiree was held at the Bamboo night club in Miami and was, naturally, Moroccan themed. Remember when birthday parties used to be just for kids? Great job on turning 29, Bosh...you nailed it!
Also, I'll lick the city street of their choice if the Boshes can find Morocco on a globe. Moving on.
Anyway! It sounds like an expensive night to begin with, but the bar bill wasn't the only cost. Bosh and his wife Adrienne Williams returned home after midnight to find $340K worth of jewelry and designer purses stolen from their closet.
Can you imagine all the money that went into planning that party? You'd think someone would have been in charge of locking the doors and windows before they left. Lessons learned.
Former Mets pitcher, now with the Twins, Mike Pelfrey admitted in 2009 that 99 percent of his money was tied up in a Ponzi scheme.
The Stanford Financial money scam impacted former Yankees players Johnny Damon and Xavier Nady at the time too. Apparently the money was invested by Pelfrey's agent, with just a side account set aside to pay bills and over living expenses.
Ultimately, the perpetrator was caught because when he tried to flee the country on a private jet, it turned out the government had frozen his assets. Hopefully, Pelfrey is a bit more judicious with his finances in the future.
Boxer Floyd "Money" Mayweather Jr. didn't get his nickname by accident. Dude has money. Loves money. Spends money. And, mostly, just wastes money.
Honestly, would you be surprised to learn that Money keeps warm on those cool desert nights by burning Benjamins? Not saying he does that, but he probably does.
That's why it was tough to feel too bad for Mayweather when he got jacked for $7 million worth of jewelry back in 2008. According to reports, thieves broke into Money's bedroom through an unlocked window—he was not on the premises at the time.
Good thing, too! I sure wouldn't want to run into Floyd Money in his own bedroom with a loaded pillow case of his diamonds and fur coats. That wouldn't end well for anyone involved.
Retired Red Wings forward Darren McCarty was one of the most dominating physical presences in the NHL over the course of his career. His play helped bulldoze Detroit's way to four Stanley Cup Championships during his tenure.
But off the ice, things haven't gone as well for McCarty. In 2006 he was forced to file for bankruptcy, with his $6 million in debts tripling his assets. Some of the situation was his own doing, like overspending and a costly divorce.
Though his former business partner has to shoulder some of the blame—half of it, to be exact. He reportedly took a $3 million loan out of McCarty's savings account, in addition to forging a $650K check. Wonder if he took it to a bank and asked for the money in 10s and 20s.
In March 2013, Giants defensive tackle Shaun Rogers put himself back on the map for all the wrong reasons. According to reports, Rogers was robbed of a half million worth of jewelry at the Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami Beach.
He was in town, for what sounds like pleasure, because the night of the robbery he and some friends were hanging at the hotel club and met some girls. According to Rogers, he returned to his room around 7 a.m. with a cutie from the club.
They did whatever they did and then he fell asleep. When he woke up just after noon the woman, and his ridiculous pile of diamonds and gold, were gone.
If you're thinking Rogers can afford to take the hit on the loss, think again! He signed a one-year contract with the Giants for 2013 with $1 million.
Rogers lost more in jewelry than he'll make playing for New York all year. After taxes, of course.
Former PGA golfer Juan "Chi-Chi" Rodriguez has the distinction of being the first Puerto Rican inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame. Today, he's approaching the age of 80 and only occasionally participates in golf events on the Champions Tour.
Sadly, in November 2012, Rodriguez and his wife were the victims of a home invasion at their apartment in San Juan. Three terrible masked men broke into their home just before 2:00 a.m. and tied the couple up before ransacking the place.
All told, the assailants got away with cash and jewelry worth approximately $500K. Rodriguez and his wife were said to be "shaken up" but okay, overall. Thankfully. What kind of soulless, vile piece of human garbage targets the elderly? Sheesh.
One of the most beloved NBA players of all time, Lakers legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was victimized by his own financial advisor not long after making the move to Los Angeles.
His money man, Tom Collins, seemed to think what was Kareem's was his. Which could explain why Collins took out no less than $9 million worth of loans under his name without Kareem's knowledge. He used the money to make terrible investments, which ultimately left Kareem flat broke.
Obviously Kareem rebounded (see what I did there?) financially and is still doing quite well for himself today, decades past his retirement.
And if there's any justice in the world, Tom Collins is currently being held in a dark basement filled with really scary (and noisy) bugs.
According to former Browns quarterback Bernie Kosar, who made millions over the course of his career, most of it was essentially flushed down the toilet by various people in his life.
First there was his father, who Kosar revealed on the ESPN "30 for 30" documentary Broke, was entrusted with much of his money but had absolutely no idea what to do with it. Resulting in endless terrible investments.
But years before, Kosar said it was a nomination of a bad economy, bad advice, a bad divorce and a very bad habit of not being able to say "No!" to those close to him, which drained him financially.
It's clear that Kosar, himself, also had absolutely no idea what to do with his money. Why else would he have given it all away so readily?
But he was undoubtedly swindled by by plenty of people in his life throughout the years.
Former University of South Carolina football standout Corey Jenkins was drafted by the Dolphins in the sixth round of the 2003 NFL draft. Which is all the more impressive considering he was drafted in the first round of the 1995 MLB Draft by the Red Sox.
Maybe he wasn't exactly the dual-threat that Bo Jackson was years earlier, but one would have thought the future was bright for Jenkins. Unfortunately he was young and naive and a prime target for unscrupulous jerks hellbent on taking him for everything he was worth—and everything he'd ever be worth.
ESPN The Magazine did an excellent piece in 2011 explaining the 10 steps on how to scam an athlete, with Jenkins being the primary focus. Because he was defrauded, degraded, and deluded every step along the way.
Corey Jenkins doesn't get nearly as much attention as he should, considering all the potential that was lost. And it wasn't lost on the field, as it was with Bo Jackson. It was stolen from him every step of the way, along with all of his money.
Hall of Fame Bronco John Elway is always in the discussion when it comes to the best quarterbacks in NFL history. He knew what he was doing on the field and he seems to know what he's doing as the Executive VP of Football Operations in Denver.
Despite all his success, Elway isn't infallible. Everyone is capable of making bad business decisions, particularly when they involve someone you think you can trust. Which is what happened when he and a business partner invested $15 million in what turned out to be a Ponzi scheme.
Sean Mueller, the hedge-fund manager responsible for the operation, was arrested and charged in October 2010. It remains unclear how much of Elway's investment was recovered, but of the nearly $100 million collected, just under $10 million remained at the time of Mueller's arrest.
At least he's got Peyton Manning.
Listen, there's no question that famed boxer Mike Tyson played a very large part in squandering the hundreds of millions he made over his career.
There's also no question that he was swindled out of much of it by famed scoundrel/promoter Don King. Because it doesn't seem like anyone involved was particularly vigilant with finances, there's no way to know for sure exactly how much King bilked Tyson for.
Though estimates put the figure around $100 million between King and his two co-managers, but considering King's penchant for criminal activity, that's probably a modest estimate.
That's gotta sting. But Iron Mike is doing okay these days and we all know Don King will get his in this life or the next!
**Speaking of getting his/hers in this life or the next, you should definitely follow me on Twitter. It'll be amazing. Or just plain terrible. Follow @blamberr