#BROKE Is No Joke

By now, it’s pretty obvious I tend to be a little obsessive over Twitter.

Last week when LeBron James’s tweet, “#BROKE,” popped up at the top of my feed, I had to hold myself back from laughing. I thought it was a joke because that man isn’t broke! He is a multi-millionaire, a world-famous NBA player–arguably the best in the League right now coming off a championship and an Olympic gold medal. He is as far away from broke as it gets!

While I contemplated whether I should retweet the “joke,” I noticed #BROKE as well as tweets referencing ESPN’s “30 for 30” documentary series were trending worldwide. A fresh tweet from ESPN claimed the top spot on my feed, listing former professional athletes who had all filed for bankruptcy.

I’ll be honest–when I saw that list, I couldn’t recognize most of the names. However, a few definitely stuck out: Mike Tyson, Michael Vick, and Antoine Walker.

Wrapping my head around this concept–that this long list of athletes had all filed for bankruptcy–was really, really difficult. Many of them made millions of dollars, and some years after they stopped playing the game, they lost it all. How is that even possible?!

That is exactly the question that ESPN’s newest “30 for 30” answers. The documentary entitled “Broke,” ran on ESPN last Tuesday, and explained how an individual can blow millions of dollars in just a few years.

In the amateur unpaid world of college sports, a player is simply playing. The kids in uniform are living it up in the spotlight on the NCAA stage trying to make it to the big league come draft night. In June when NBA Commissioner David Stern announced, “With the first pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, the New Orleans Hornets select Anthony Davis,” the 19-year-old Davis’s life was changed forever.

He was no longer a college freshman at the University of Kentucky. He was no longer the unibrowed Wildcat blocking shots any rival team was chucking at the basket.

Instead, he became a professional basketball player. Professional meant paid. According to ESPN, Davis signed a three-year $16 million guaranteed contract on July 24, 2012, with $5 million coming to him in his first year alone. Let me remind you, he is 19.

Bad things can happen when that much money is showered upon a young man stepping into the real world for the first time.

ESPN Broke 30 for 30
Photo Cred: ESPN

Queue the luxury one-of-a-kind vehicles, multiple homes, bling, designer everything, treating entire bars to drinks, and gambling. Thousands of dollars will be spent in a single night out.

This kind of absurd and excessive overspending in addition to bad investments, manipulation by family and friends, divorce settlements, and failure to pay child support for multiple offspring has led athletes into bankruptcy. All this was explained in detail from some of those broke athletes themselves on ESPN’s documentary last week.

While those former athletes shared their woes, current NBA players like LeBron James were watching on their television sets and tweeting simultaneously about the program. The film seems to have opened their eyes. I know it definitely opened mine.

I applaud ESPN greatly for its extremely well-made and informative documentary on this hushed topic. I didn’t even realize athletes could go broke. Without the Twitter hashtags and LeBron James live-tweeting, it is likely that I and many others never would have heard about the documentary; therefore, never seeing it and remaining ignorant, mindlessly complaining about how much the athletic 19-year-olds are getting paid these days.

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