The Shocking Outcome of Latrell Sprewell’s Life After Turning Down an NBA Contract
One of the most shocking and memorable sports stories in history was the time Latrell Sprewell, then-starting player for the Golden State Warriors, refused to sign the three-year, $21 million contract extension that was offered to him in 1998, reportedly saying I have my family to feed. But what happened next? Let’s find out.
Losing out on millions of dollars
Latrell Sprewell had the decision to make. The New York Knicks offered him a three-year, $21 million contract in 1997. It was not a difficult choice: Sign the deal or walk away from millions of dollars. He walked away from millions, and his career never recovered. By 2002 he was out of the league for good.
Latrell Sprewell was a basketball prodigy who had just led the Golden State Warriors to their first championship in 40 years. He had just signed a $21 million contract, but he turned it down. I’ve got a family to feed, he said, and then walked away from the game.
For years, his life played out like a cautionary tale: The kids’ camp that he dreamed up never took off because no sponsors would touch him; the car dealership that bore his name went belly up when GM filed for bankruptcy; he even lost his home in foreclosure proceedings.
Starting over in China
Latrell was born in 1966 in Louisiana and grew up in poverty. He said he grew up thinking that the only way out was basketball. In 1991, at age 25, he went to China to play for the Beijing Ducks after a short stint with the Golden State Warriors. He had been offered a $21 million contract from the Warriors but declined it saying he had a family to feed.
He played for 10 years in China and never made more than $1 million per year — which is about one-fifth as much as he would have made annually playing for the Warriors.
Returning to the US
Moving to a new state can be difficult, especially when it means leaving behind family and friends.
Latrell moved his wife and four kids back to New York after 17 years away.
I didn’t want my children growing up in California, he said. I wanted them to know where I’m from.
Living in Atlanta as a private coach
He saw his son, Latrell Jr., born in 1998, and has been quoted as saying I know I have a little something to do with that. He also later expressed regret for turning down the contract offer. That was the biggest mistake of my life, he said in 2008. I messed up too badly.
Still not getting any offers from NBA teams
It has been nearly 15 years since the Golden State Warriors offered Latrell Sprewell a three-year $21 million contract. Now, he is still struggling to find any offers from teams in the National Basketball Association.
Unfortunately, as a 37-year-old man now, it doesn’t appear like his basketball career is going to take off anytime soon. As odd as it may sound, he said that he is still practicing and working out so that he can play in some professional leagues, but no one is calling him back right now.
The former New York Knicks guard said in a recent interview with SiriusXM NBA Radio that he hasn’t been able to land a gig yet because teams are looking for younger players at his position and think he will not be able to contribute. He also thinks people have forgotten about what happened to him back when he was a member of Golden State.
Moving with his family back to New York after 17 years away
I’m in the house, back in New York. It feels good to be home. At least one person is happy about Sprewell’s return: His mother. When I saw him, I said, ‘It feels so good to have you home,’ she told the newspaper.
Getting into acting, music, and real estate – despite still playing professionally.
Latrell Sprewell made a decision that many athletes would have thought twice about — he declined a multi-million-dollar contract with the New York Knicks in order to go back to school and complete his education, saying that he needed to provide for his family.
Although he was widely criticized by the media and fans alike, it turns out that this decision turned out not only for him but for his family as well.
In 2003, after playing a few seasons in the Continental Basketball Association (CBA) and Asia, he got back into acting with a role on Sesame Street which led to more than 20 other roles in films and television shows.
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