Former NBA power forward Vin Baker made almost $100 million dollars over a 13-year career, including two seasons with the Boston Celtics. Now he’s training to be a manager at a Rhode Island Starbucks.
The surprising part? He calls it a blessing.
— Providence Journal (@projo) July 28, 2015
Baker was considered one of the best basketball players in the world in the late ’90s, making four NBA All-Star Games and winning Olympic gold with Team USA in 2000.
But his career fell apart due to a battle with alcoholism.
“I’m an alcoholic,” he told The Boston Globe in 2003, six months after completing a 28-day treatment program at Silver Hill Hospital in New Canaan, Connecticut, while serving a suspension issued by the Celtics.
But that wasn’t the end of Baker’s struggles. The Celtics released him in 2004 for violating the terms of his treatment program. He played 52 more games over two seasons for three different teams before retiring for good in 2006. Along with battling alcoholism, Baker lost much of the money he earned through a combination of bad business deals, a bad accountant, and being overly generous with his funds, according to an interview with the Providence Journal.
Baker spent five seasons with the Seattle SuperSonics from 1997 to 2002, and thanks to Starbucks CEO and former Sonics owner Howard Shultz, Baker is now working as a barista at a Starbucks in North Kingstown, Rhode Island, and undergoing training to be a future franchise manager.
“In this company, there are opportunities for everyone. I have an excellent situation here at Starbucks, and the people are wonderful,” Baker told the Journal. “For me, I’m 43 and I have four kids. I have to pick up the pieces. I’m a father. I’m a minister in my father’s church. I have to take the story and show that you can bounce back.”
Along with his Starbucks work and ministerial duties, Baker has been working with the Milwaukee Bucks staff during the NBA summer league in Las Vegas mentoring the younger players. As he told The Boston Globe, he has a lot more to offer Milwaukee’s rookies than tips on rebounding and boxing out.
“I think the great part of me having the opportunity to speak with them is they know [my] story,” he told the Globe. “When I talk to them, that goes a long way. But the main message is to take every day one day at a time, and it’s important. Don’t take this for granted. Don’t take your abilities or your opportunity to play in the NBA for granted.”
Baker has lost a lot in the last 20 years; he’s thankful for an opportunity to turn his life around. Best of all, he has been sober for four years.
“For me, this could have ended most likely in jail or death. That’s how these stories usually end,” he told the Journal.
[Photos via AP, Getty]