David Harrison was once a first-round pick who seemed destined for NBA greatness, but the former Indiana Pacers center has fallen on hard times since exiting the league following the 2007-08 season.
According to Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports, the former University of Colorado standout was working at a McDonald's restaurant to make ends meet as recently as two years ago.
Per Spears: "Harrison made $4.4 million before taxes during four seasons with Indiana and also played in China professionally for three seasons. He said almost all of that money is gone. Now 32 and without a college degree, Harrison said he's having a hard time finding a job."
Harrison told Yahoo Sports:
I was embarrassed because of where I could be in life. Everybody has to work and make a living somehow. I have two children. They don't care where I work. They just need to eat.
People were showing up trying to take my car. My house was in foreclosure. I didn't have any income. I just had everything going out. I have child support to one son. I have a really big family and I have to take care of them, even through [sic] I'm not playing in the NBA. I needed money.
Harrison had the potential to be a great player at seven feet tall and 280 pounds, but he never managed to live up to expectations. He averaged just five points and three rebounds per game over the course of four seasons and was never able to find success in the NBA.
Although Harrison didn't develop into the player many thought he could be, Pacers play-by-play broadcaster Mark Joseph Boyle remembers him as a unique individual:
Sad. This was one of the more fascinating guys we've had come through here in my time. http://t.co/3fHuQJ6UQh— Mark Joseph Boyle (@Mark_J_Boyle) March 13, 2015
Harrison didn't have many highlights over the course of his NBA career, but one of the low points was undoubtedly his involvement in the "Malice at the Palace" brawl between the Pacers, Detroit Pistons and fans.
Ron Artest, now known as Metta World Peace, famously started a melee on Nov. 19, 2004, when he went into the stands and attacked a fan after having a drink thrown at him. Harrison was accused of punching a 67-year-old fan, per Spears, and he was ultimately fined, placed on probation and forced to perform community service.
While it was a black mark on the NBA, Harrison recalled a funny moment during the aftermath of the incident, via Spears:
Ron says, "Hey, my bad guys. I'm sorry. I didn't know I had so many real [expletives] on this team." Then he says out loud, "Hey, do you think we are going to get fined?" Anthony [Johnson] says, "[Expletive] a fine, Ron. They are going to suspend us."
Then Ron was literally like my 6-year-old son and [said], "Oh man, you think they're going to suspend us? I don't want to be suspended." And everyone starts laughing.
As infamous as the "Malice at the Palace" was, that memory comes from a time when Harrison was a rookie and filled with promise.
Even though Harrison flamed out in the NBA, most probably assume that former first-round picks are set for life.
That wasn't the case with Harrison, and he now serves as a cautionary tale to young NBA players about the importance of saving money and preparing for life after basketball.
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