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7 Surprising Broke Black Athletes You Should Know

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The phenomenon of broke black athletes is as old as time. To onlookers, it’s inconceivable that most professional athletes will face financial headwinds considering their hefty salaries, bonuses, and endorsement deals.

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Data shows that 60% of former National Basketball Association (NBA) players go broke within the first five years after retirement. For National Football League (NFL) players, 78% go through a financial crisis within the first two years of retirement. 

This isn’t limited to only these two disciplines, as athletes from different sports end up penniless. In this article, we list seven broke black athletes and how they ended in financial ruin.

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Celestine Babayaro

The former Nigerian footballer was worth $3 million, but in 2011, Babayaro declared bankruptcy. During his heydays in the Premier League, the Nigerian earned as much as £25,000 per week. 

Neighbors who lived near him say that the lack of property management showed he struggles financially. In his last-ditch attempt to improve his financial standing, Babayaro tried to get a move to the Major League Soccer (MLS) but it fell off.

Eric Djemba-Djemba

In 2007, the former Cameroonian international joined the infamous list of broke black athletes. Djemba-Djemba was declared bankrupt by a court in Birmingham. During his prime years at Manchester United, his earnings topped £75,000. 

According to his former agent Christophe Mongai, he mismanaged his money on expensive cars and was in so much debt that he survived on bonuses and extras. Djemba-Djemba refutes the claims but acknowledges that he lost a lot of money. 

Emmanuel Eboue

Emmanuel Ebou makes it into our list of broke black athletes. His story was widely publicized, particularly when news of his divorce from his ex-wife, Aurelie Bertrand came out. As part of the settlement, the courts in England awarded her all of Eboue’s assets and child custody. At the time, his net worth was around $20 million

In an interview, Eboue said he used to sign off any documents his ex-wife gave him without question. He thought she was doing this in the interest of his kids and family, only for her to dump him after his career ended. 

While Ebous acknowledged his loss, he refuted claims that he was completely broke and homeless. The former footballer said he went back to Africa, where he had properties and is living well.

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Jabu Mahlangu

Jabu Mahlangu played for Kaizer Chiefs for 15 years. On the field, he was successful, but away from it, the former footballer struggled with alcoholism. He blew his fortune on partying and, in 2010, filed for bankruptcy. 

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Speaking on the situation, Mahlangu said that most people who surrounded him were only there for the good times. He advises upcoming athletes to be conscious of their finances and think about life after football. 

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Mike Tyson

7 Surprising Broke Black Athletes You Should Know
Iron Mike was one of the biggest boxers in history. Image Source: Instagram licensed under CC BY 2.0

Our list of broke black athletes wouldn’t be complete without Mike Tyson, one of the biggest boxers in history. At the peak of his career, he landed lucrative matches and walked away with huge payouts. Tyson lived a luxurious lifestyle and spent his money on expensive jewellery. 

By the time he declared bankruptcy in 2003, the former boxer was $27 million in debt. He sued his former manager, Don King for $100 million for misleading him. In total, it’s believed that he lost about $230 million.  

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O.J Simpson

You’ve probably heard of Orenthal James Simpson, popularly known as O.J. Simpsons. He was a prominent football player for the Buffalo Bills and the San Francisco 49ers and appeared on television shows. 

However, everything changed on the night of June 12, 1994, when his wife and a waiter were found dead. Five days later, the former NFL star was arrested for attempted murder. His trial took one year, after which he was acquitted but it took a toll on his finances.  

The lawsuit cost him $33.5 million, another $8.5 million as compensation to Goldman Sachs’s family, and a further $25 million in punitive damages. As if that wasn’t bad enough, O.J. Simpson served nine years in prison for robbery, further denting his financial ability.

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Sheryl Swoopes 

Sheryl Swoopes was one of the best Women’s NBA players of all time. In fact, she was likened to Michael Jordan. At the height of her career, she won numerous titles and reportedly earned about $50 million. However, bad investments and careless spending dried her coffers. 

In 2004, Swoopes declared bankruptcy even though she had $50 million. The former basketballer sold her Olympic Gold medals and trophies to pay her bills. 

Unfortunately, we have to make a list of broke black athletes, but it’s also a learning point for the rest of us. Regardless of how much you earn, bad spending habits will cost you. Developing good financial habits is the only way to avoid bankruptcy. Don’t wait to learn the hard way like these athletes did.  

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