Ex-NBA Star Vin Baker Finds Redemption at Starbucks

How a former NBA All-Star lost $100 million en route to becoming a better man.

By Robert Moeller Published on July 30, 2015

Vin Baker made more than $100 million during his 13-year NBA career. Now the 43-year-old father of four is managing a Starbucks in Rhode Island.

And he’s happy about it.

From The Providence Journal:

The world’s tallest, and perhaps most famous, barista is stationed behind a busy coffee counter. His smile and easy-going style welcome customers looking for their Starbucks fix as they fastbreak to work or South County’s beaches.

….

This is Vin Baker’s world these days. This is the same Baker who grew up in Old Saybrook, Conn., and went on to become one of New England’s all-time great collegiate basketball players at the University of Hartford. It’s the same Baker who won Olympic gold in 2000, played in four NBA All-Star Games and spent 13 years in the pros, including parts of two seasons with the Celtics.

It’s also the same Baker who battled alcoholism toward the end of his career. That addiction, plus a series of financial missteps ranging from a failed restaurant to simply too many hands dipping into his gold-plated cookie jar, combined to wipe out nearly $100 million in earnings.

The story continues:

Baker is training to manage a Starbucks franchise. He thanks CEO Howard Shultz, the former Seattle SuperSonics owner, with this opportunity. He’s also a trained minister who savors work at his father’s church in Connecticut. Most important, he has been sober for more than four years.

Sobriety. A grateful, positive attitude. A humble spirit. A willingness to work. Re-engagement in the local church. These are the ingredients that are all but required for any meaningful growth in life. Granted, most of us do not know what it must feel like to lose 1/10th of $1 billion, but all of us can identify with someone who appears to be appreciative of God’s forgiveness and a second chance in life.

In our culture, practically everyone wants to be a star, to be famous. Everyone wants to be wealthy and live the good life. Everyone wants other people to “just take care of that” for them. But such things don’t require anything from your character, and rarely add anything to it.

I’m sure there are times when Vin Baker wishes he had made different choices, but it sounds like he would be the first to tell you that he’s a better person for his experiences and that he wouldn’t trade them for all of the fame and glory in the world.

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.

See, there you have it!

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