Joe Smith knows firsthand what it’s like to go from making over eight figures to losing it all.
In 2018, the former NBA star and No. 1 draft pick appeared on MLB star Alex Rodriguez’s show “Back in the Game” due to financial trouble, according to CNBC. The goal was to teach Smith how to bring in more revenue and decrease his spending. The show would support Smith’s coaching business, which he started in 2015, so he could be in a better financial standing.
After earning $61 million within 16 years of playing in the league, Smith had only $3,000 in his bank account and over $150,000 in debt, according to VLADTV. The aftermath of his time in the NBA resulted from a combination of taxes, agent fees, and management fees — cutting his income to $18 million — not to mention “reckless spending, bad investments and a costly divorce,” CNBC detailed.
“A lot of people think once you sign that contract, you’re just an automatic millionaire,” Smith told Rodriguez, per CNBC. “But it doesn’t work like that. Nobody really explained that and broke that down to me, that Uncle Sam, out of that $3 million, Uncle Sam is going to take probably $1.5 [million] of that. That was just something I had to learn.”
Nearly five years after Smith’s episode on “Back in the Game” aired, he has shared what has happened since. During an interview with VLADTV, he recalled no longer being able to get in contact with anyone from the show for support.
“That TV show I thought would help more with the stuff that they was saying that they would do and help me with,” Smith said during the interview. “Once we finished shooting, that was it.”
He added, “I was kind of just left out to dry after that show was aired.”
As aforementioned, Smith’s financial problems were due to spending money irresponsibly. In the interview, he spoke about not recouping much from homes he purchased when he sold them, and he mentioned the cost of his divorce leaving a big dent in his pockets.
Smith hopes for his “very low point” and time of “deep depression” to help the next generation of athletes learn from his mistakes. He also praised NBA stars such as LeBron James and Stephen Curry for giving back to rising basketball players.
“That’s another reason why I didn’t mind sharing my story on [‘Back in the Game’] because it’s happened before me, and it’s probably gonna happen again after,” he said. “For me to be able to share my story and some of these other guys to be able to share their stories — what they feel they did wrong and how they feel they blew through their money — that’s something we should be open to sharing. That’s something we should want to give to the next generation.”