MIAMI (CBSMiami) – South Florida filmmaker Billy Corben’s latest ESPN film dealt with a topic that is tough for most athletes to talk about, having it all and losing it all.
The feature, titled “Broke”, looked at how former athletes received millions, sometimes tens of millions of dollars, while playing only to quickly spend all the money and end up in a serious financial jam.
“What I was most surprised about actually was, number one how easy it is to make millions of dollars and lose it all,” Corben said. “And number two, as we spoke to athletes from different sports, and even different eras, they all seemed to have the same story. They all seemed to fall into the same traps.”
There have been scores of athletes who have found themselves on the wrong end of financial ruin. Boxer Mike Tyson made around $400 million in his career and has nothing to show for it. Former NBA star Latrell Sprewell made roughly $50 million in his career and has since seen his homes foreclosed upon and yachts repossessed.
For Corben, he hopes the new generation of athletes may finally learn something from their predecessors’ mistakes, especially in the context of the current economy.
“My hope is that smart is the new stupid,” Corben said. “Whereas in the 90’s and we were in the middle of a boom and credit was flowing, it was cool to be a spendthrift, it was cool to trade up and live beyond your means. And I think we’re entering a time now post-Great Recession after 2008 where it’s not so cool anymore to be ostentatious.”
While Corben focused primarily on the failures of many of the athletes, there were some success stories to be found from former athletes.
“Jamaal Mashburn, who not only was very financially successful in the NBA, but his whole life dreamed of wearing a suit and carrying a briefcase and going to an office, he’s living his dream and he said he’s happier now than he ever was,” Corben said.
And just in case you were wondering, Corben hasn’t forgotten about “The U” who have a huge game on Saturday against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.
“I think it’s going to be a nail-biter,” Corben said, “as too many of the Hurricanes game have been this season. I think it’s going to be a close one and I think Miami is going to pull it out by two.”