Former bankrupt NBA star Antoine Walker talks finances with SHU athletes

Former NBA champion and three-time All-Star Antoine Walker gave a presentation to Seton Hall student-athletes about financial literacy on Wednesday night in McNulty Hall.

The 40-year-old has been visiting colleges across the country in partnership with Morgan Stanley Global Sports & Entertainment for the past two years.

In 2010, having made over $108 million in 12 seasons, Walker declared bankruptcy. He lost his money for a combination of reasons, but the chief ones were an extravagant lifestyle (cars, jewelry, clothes, houses, vacations and such), providing for family and friends, and a disastrous real estate investment.

“After going through my bankruptcy, looking at it, there were so many things that I was unaware of,” Walker said. “So, I wanted to give back. I wanted to turn my negative story into a positive story. I want to be a learning example for student-athletes.”

Assistant Athletics Director for Student-Athlete Development & Leadership Roberto Sasso, who organized the event, pointed out before Walker spoke that the message was for all ears—not just those who play basketball.

“Not all of them will go pro,” Sasso said of the student-athletes. “But just because we bring in an NBA player doesn’t mean that a Biology major cross-country runner can’t take something out of that experience.”

Some student-athletes didn’t know much (if anything) about Walker’s past going into the hour-long speech, which featured audience interaction, volunteers and games.

One such example was men’s soccer goalie Julian Spindler, who is from Germany.

“I actually had no idea about his story coming in,” the senior finance major said. “In general, we don’t learn too much about (professional-athlete money). For me and for some of my teammates, especially those who don’t have a background in finance, it will be helpful to get more training like this.”

Walker said that the reaction to his newfound mission has been overwhelmingly positive.

“I come from humble beginnings (in Chicago),” he said. “I don’t come from a lot. I was fortunate and blessed to be able to able to make the type of money that I made, but I come from the same background (as some student-athletes). I think I have a good balance, and that’s why I can resonate and hit home with a lot of these kids.”

 Walker recognizes that his listeners never completely understand, given their status as non-professionals. But his goal is to leave them with tools to use when temptations do arise.

“At 19, you need to think about 40,” Walker said. “And that’s hard to do. You want to make enough money to take care of your kids, and their kids. But it’s possible.”

-Thomas Duffy

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