Antoine Walker was selected as the sixth overall pick by the Boston Celtics in the 1996 NBA Draft.
At that point, Walker probably thought any financial woes were behind him. However, a year and a half after retiring from basketball, Walker declared bankruptcy making national headlines.
“I came into the NBA at 19 years old and I made over $108 million off my NBA contracts, but I lost it all because I mismanaged it,” Walker told HoopsHype of USA Today Sports. “I filed for bankruptcy a year and a half after leaving the league and I want these young players to realize that it can happen to them too if they aren’t smart with their money.”
Walker is now turning a negative into a positive and is using his mistakes as a way to help collegiate and professional athletes by sharing his story and teaching them the right way to handle their finances.
Financial service firm Morgan Stanley launched a Global Sports and Entertainment division and hired Walker as a consultant to speak to athletes.
Walker and two other colleagues went on to design a financial education program that teaches athletes how to budget their money, save long-term, build and maintain credit, make smart investments and understand taxes.
The curriculum also helps athletes avoid common pitfalls that Walker knows all too well, such as overspending on luxury items and feeling obligated to provide for all of his family and friends.
The program’s goal is to teach athletes how to “make, protect, save and grow” their earning.
“Having someone like Antoine, who has gone through this and has a lot of experiences to share, just provides the program with even more credibility,” said Hawkins, the division managing director. “We know the players are more likely to listen to Antoine as opposed to someone who works at a financial service firm and can’t relate to their background or experiences. He’s genuine and he’s doing this for the right reasons.”
Walker describes this new career path as “therapeutic” and gets a thrill out of teaching athletes what he wishes he knew.
Since the program launched, 40 colleges and 24 professional team (NBA and NFL) and some agencies have used the program.
“It’s so rewarding,” Walker said. “Being able to help these guys is amazing; it’s why I wanted to be a part of this and tell my story. You hear about so many athletes who go broke after leaving professional sports and a lot of us are ashamed or embarrassed about it. Now, I’ve decided to be open about it because I want to lower the number of athletes who go broke.”
I highly recommend reading the full story and everything Antoine had to say. Good stuff from one of the best to play at Kentucky.