Former NBA Star Pleads Guilty to Fraud: Black Athletes Wake Up…

Like Love Haha Wow Sad Angry

( Former NBA star and Michigan State player Jay Vincent pleaded guilty to two major felonies this week. Both involved his creation of a $2 million scam that was perpetrated on the Internet.

The two charges to which Vincent pleaded guilty were mail fraud and filing a false tax return. The charges were filed in federal court in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He is set to appear in court again on Tuesday.

Vincent owes $110,000 in unpaid taxes, and may see time in prison. Prosecutors have not yet announced his likely sentence and it didn’t appear in court papers. Vincent played with Magic Johnson on the 1979 Michigan State national championship team.

I would love for young black athletes to be able to hear stories about former athletes who once thought they were reaching their dreams of playing in the NBA or NFL. Most of these stories end in tragedy and sadness, not the happily ever after that the player thinks he’s getting on draft day. When his  name is called, the player stands up in a tacky-looking suit, hugs his mama, and watches tears flow from all the relatives who now think that they are going to live the good life forever. It takes a couple of years before reality sets in.

The reality is that the “guaranteed” contract is not nearly as guaranteed as the athlete once thought. The IRS, agents and attorneys end up getting more money out of the athlete than he and his family. He also realizes that one little knee injury can take him from the top of the pile to the bottom. Believe me, the knee injury is coming at some point.

After being used up for a couple of years and cut for the next young brother behind him, many black athletes suddenly realize that they have nothing left. Rather than being the great athlete who earns hundreds of millions of dollars for the next 20 years, many black athletes find themselves to be 25-year old retirees with a fifth grade reading level. The black athlete who sells his entire educational future in exchange for the NBA dream often finds that the dream is actually a nightmare.

None of the jobs for uneducated former athletes pay a salary that allows the player to support the lifestyle to which he’s chosen to become accustomed. It’s hard to take care of 15 relatives, four kids, five automobiles and three homes on a Burger King paycheck. In that case, you unfortunately see some athletes turning to drug dealing or other illegal activity in order to keep the money train flowing. We all know that those stories don’t have happy endings either, and perhaps it’s time to confront this vicious cycle.

Quick tips for the black athlete in America (this is not to make any presumption regarding why Jay Vincent decided to break the law):

1) Get your education. Your lawyer and agents are educated, and they are going to probably make more money than you for a longer period of time. Also, they are going to make money off of the next black athlete that comes along after your knees wear out. The bottom line is that education gets you paid for life, and sports might get you paid temporarily.

2) Control the number of kids you have. Child support will murder your paycheck and some (not all) money-hungry baby’s mamas can show no mercy when it comes to making sure you’re still expected to pay thousands every month after your career is no longer generating cash for you.

3) Stay away from friends who are engaged in illegal activity. If you are not careful, you’ll end up looking like Michael Vick did three years ago. It’s not just making the right decision that matters, it’s being around people who are making good decisions too.

4) You don’t have to take care of everyone in your family. Hook them up with a couple of thousand dollars per year, which is more than enough. At that point, they can find a way to take care of themselves. Those same people will probably not be able to help you when your money train comes to an end. There are ways to be generous without destroying yourself financially.

5) Don’t over leverage yourself with too many material possessions. Every time you create a new car note or house payment, you are making another major commitment that will be difficult to keep. Lorenzen Wright found the walls tumbling down when his NBA career ended, yet he was stuck with over $20,000 per month in child support and payments on four vehicles. This is why many believe Wright might have been dealing drugs when he was killed.

6) Did I mention getting educated? Maybe I did, but it’s important enough for me to repeat. A black man in America without an education is nothing more than a sitting duck to be victimized and terrorized by a system that is designed to destroy him. Those systems include entertainment, sports, and the criminal justice system. If you are not educated and smart enough to navigate the system, they will eat your butt alive. Take those words to the bank.

OK, I’m done. Now lets elevate our level of play.

Written By  Dr. Boyce Watkins