Report: Former Sonics star Vin Baker blew $100 million, now working at Starbucks

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Vin Baker (GETTY IMAGES)

NORTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. — For many, the thought of blowing millions of dollars only to end up broke and in-line to manage a Starbucks is a dim thought.

But for former Seattle Supersonics Center Vin Baker, the reality of his current situation is not dim. It’s a godsend.

Baker, 43, recently spoke to the Providence Journal about his well-known battle with chemical dependency and a bevy of financial missteps that wiped out $100 million in career earnings. He also spoke about finding redemption with a family church and his plan to manage a Starbucks franchise, a feat he says was greatly aided by former Sonics owner and Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz.

Baker, who spent four successful yet tumultuous years with the Sonics, told the Providence Journal that he understands many look at him foolishly for blowing nearly all of his $100 million income in 13 years in the NBA. But what most don’t realize, he said, is that financial ruin can happen to anyone. Even those who make big bucks.

“When you learn lessons in life, no matter what level you’re at financially, the important part to realize is it could happen,” Baker told the Providence Journal. “I was an alcoholic, I lost a fortune. I had a great talent and lost it. For the people on the outside looking in, they’re like ‘Wow.'”

Baker said as his alcoholism went unchecked, financial ruin was not far behind. He lost a home in Connecticut, and a restaurant he backed floundered. The pressures of money on a young man with little financial knowledge got the best of him, he said.

“I appreciate that in a lot of cases it’s more money, more problems,” Baker told the Journal. “I think in professional sports today teams have to deal with the personal challenges of giving young men this extraordinary amount of money. For me it was a real struggle.”

Baker, who has been sober for more than four years, told the Journal that each day is a challenge and a blessing. He said he values his time with Starbucks, and hopes to manage a successful store as well as get back into basketball as a coach.

“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,” Baker told the Journal. “The show’s got to go on.”

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