As the ESPN documentary “Broke” taught us, professional athletes can lose all of their earnings in the blink of an eye. One person who knows that path well is former NBA big man Vin Baker, who saw his basketball career fizzle out due to alcoholism and surrounding himself with the wrong people.
As a result, while working occasionally as an ordained minister and trying to find a job in the league, Baker, 43, works at a Rhode Island Starbucks. Kevin McNamara of The Providence Journal penned the story.
Baker finds himself working at the iconic chain after losing nearly $100 million in total earnings, but has remained positive, as he told McNamara.
“When you learn lessons in life, no matter what level you’re at financially, the important part to realize is it could happen,” he said. “I was an alcoholic, I lost a fortune. I had a great talent and lost it. For the people on the outside looking in, they’re like ‘Wow.’ For me, I’m 43 and I have four kids. I have to pick up the pieces. I’m a father. I’m a minister in my father’s church. I have to take the story and show that you can bounce back. If I use my notoriety in the right way, most people will appreciate that this guy is just trying to bounce back in his life.”
“For me this could have ended most likely in jail or death. That’s how these stories usually end,” he says. “For me to summon the strength to walk out here and get excited about retail management at Starbucks and try to provide for my family, I feel that’s more heroic than being 6-11 with a fade-away jump shot. I get energy from waking up in the morning and, first of all, not depending on alcohol, and not being embarrassed or ashamed to know I have a family to take care of. The show’s got to go on.”
It’s certainly an odd spot for Baker to be in, as he was picked eighth overall by the Milwaukee Bucks out of the University of Hartford in the 1993 NBA Draft and went on to appear in four All-Star Games and average 15 points and 7.4 rebounds per game in 13 NBA seasons.
Though his situation certainly isn’t ideal, it’s impossible not to admire Baker’s positivity and optimistic outlook on life, whereas others in his situation may be bitter. With that kind of attitude, Baker is only going to move up in Starbucks and, hopefully, in other ventures.
Campus Sports wishes Baker the best of luck!
*Featured Photo (above) credit to USA TODAY Sports