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How to lose millions

Warren Sapp, the former Bucs star, filed for bankruptcy recently, saying he owes more than $6.7 million to creditors and back child support and alimony. This is a guy who made more than $80 million in his NFL career. Sapp is hardly the first athlete to have these types of financial struggles. How in the world does it happen? Here's a guide on how athletes blow through their money and end up broke.

Buy a bunch of stuff

It's one thing to live the lifestyle of the rich and famous. It's another to live the lifestyle of the foolish and careless. Former heavyweight boxing champ Mike Tyson reportedly plunked down millions on clothing, bling, real estate, drugs and, get this, a white tiger. Former NBA star Latrell Sprewell bought a yacht. Former NBA star Scottie Pippen, above, bought a $4 million jet. Former baseball slugger Jack Clark owned 18 cars. Soon the playing career ends and athletes can no longer keep up with their lifestyle.

Surround yourself with freeloaders

It's not unusual for a player to hit it big and take care of his family. He buys a house for mom. He takes care of brother and sister, maybe a lifelong friend or two. That's fine. It becomes a problem when suddenly every cousin, every uncle, every person you went to school with knocks on his door with one hand while holding out the other. Former Celtics star Antoine Walker lost more than $110 million. His mother told the Boston Globe that Walker was supporting something like 70 people, many of whom were living in Walker's 14 homes.

Have too many kids and don't take care of them

Former heavyweight champ Evander Holyfield reportedly has a bunch of kids. Some say the number might be as high as 11. He has lost a good chunk of his career earnings (more than $250 million) after being sued for back child support. Maybe this led to Holyfield's problems, too: He owned a 54,000-square-foot home that had 109 rooms, 17 bathrooms, three kitchens and, wait for it, a bowling alley.

Get into trouble

NFL star Michael Vick was living the good life until his role in a dogfighting scandal gave him the double whammy. He had to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on legal fees while his career (and the paychecks that came with it) were put on hold. Olympic star Marion Jones spent gobs of money fighting off doping and related charges. Former NFL star Lawrence Taylor burned through his money on cocaine.

Bad investments

Sometimes an athlete would be better off stuffing his money in a mattress. But you can't blame them for making investments hoping to turn their millions into more millions. Some investments work out well. Some don't. Take NFL quarterback Mark Brunell, above, who says he racked up more than $25 million in debts because of bum real estate deals. Former major-leaguer Lenny Dykstra bottomed out in part because an investment in car washes didn't pan out.

Gamble it all away

This is a common problem for athletes. They have so much money that it feels like Monopoly money. Professional golfer John Daly said he once lost more than $1.5 million in less than five hours while playing slot machines. His gambling losses are believed to be in the tens of millions. He is just one of hundreds of examples involving athletes and gambling.

Hire people to take care of your money and have them not take care of your money

Some athletes try to do the right thing by hiring a financial expert, lawyer or agent to help them manage their money. Problem is, they sometimes hire the wrong person. Former NBA star Mark Jackson lost millions because his business manager forged Jackson's name on checks to take care of gambling debts. Often, athletes go broke and they don't know it.

tom jones' two cents

How to lose millions 04/11/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, April 11, 2012 10:49pm]

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