Modern media has given the world several vantage points into the struggle of substance abuse. Whether fictional or rooted in reality, the impacts of drug and alcohol misuse are no laughing matter. For many, the consequences of such a struggle meant the termination of relationships and jobs, the loss of money, and, unfortunately, the loss of life.

However, not all stories that involve substance abuse end in defeat. Several people, with proper support and strategy, can recover and live healthy and prosperous lives.

Milwaukee Bucks assistant coach Vin Baker is an example of a person who triumphed over his struggles, overcoming considerable losses and relational distress.

A Thriving Career

According to the LA Times, Baker had a severe alcohol addiction, costing him a lucrative NBA career and over $100 million in salary and endorsements.

Before things went south for Baker, the preacher’s kid was an impactful player in the NBA. Throughout his 13-year career, the former NBA player amassed a massive fortune and was on track to be one of the league’s premier players.

Photo Credit: Otto Greule, Jr.

This era of massive success also came with huge celebrations. It was there that alcoholism began to penetrate his reality.

“It was like, I made it. Along with that came the celebration. And I celebrated and celebrated and celebrated almost every day,” he said, according to the outlet.

Baker’s struggle with alcohol started to impact his performance on the court, and by 2003, he openly admitted his struggles.

And even though he was honest with his addiction, it did not stop the trajectory it had him on. Later in the interview, it is noted that Baker lost $1 million in one night and was cycled through several teams after poor on-court appearances.

By 2006, he was out of the league, riddled with bad business investments, DUI charges, loss of property, and cycling through marijuana and pill use on top of the alcohol.

“The rock bottom for me wasn’t necessarily knowing and understanding that I couldn’t get back in the league. It was more than that. And I mean this wholeheartedly. I knew I felt abandoned by God,” Baked admitted.

At what could be seen at his lowest point, Baker reached out to his family for help and entered a rehabilitation facility.

Typically, the third time is said to be the charm, but for Baker, his fifth stint in rehab put him on the permanent road to recovery.

Reconnected to his faith and family, Baker found himself in a management trainee program, eventually opening and operating his own Starbucks location. And in the words of Cardi B, since then, it’s been “up and stuck.”

Baker got the chance to do some broadcasting work for the Milwaukee Bucks, eventually landing his assistant coach role.

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“This was an opportunity that was afforded to me not to screw up,” Baker pointed out. “It’s not about me. Like, it’s not about ‘I made it. I’m a coach of the Bucks.’ It’s about there’s somebody watching.”

Today, Baker is sure that while his addiction is behind him, his path is a cautionary tale and can motivate others.

“I understand the addiction from every single level. I haven’t left, in my mind, all the bad things that happened. Like, I didn’t forget about it. Nor have I forgotten about four years ago when I was just putting on a green apron at Starbucks. I’m not that far in the clouds. I have an absolute responsibility to provide hope for people who aren’t in healthy situations when it comes to addiction. That precedes anything else in my life,” Baker explained to the Los Angeles Times.