Unfortunately, Allen Iverson’s story is all too typical of pro athletes. But his journey from a wealthy All-Star NBA point guard to divorcee deep in debt is detailed in a new revealing book Not A Game by Kent Babb.
During his career Iverson was never shy about get attention. He was often controversial. But he was super talented on the court.
Then, after years of spending and living beyond his means, Iverson found himself broke. A fact he was trying to keep secret from his then-wife Tawanna. She found out after catching Iverson calling around town asking friends to lend him money.
Iverson, who grew up poor in Hampton, VA had become accustomed to the good life. “During the 2008-09 season, the Denver Nuggets and Detroit Pistons paid him nearly $21 million, the highest single-season salary of Iverson’s career,” reports The New York Daily News. However, just two short years later he had blown through much of that as well as his $155 million fortune.
Iverson isn’t the first professional sports star to go broke. Many athletes come from humble backgrounds and splurge on the luxuries they never had once the money starts rolling in. Iverson fancied chain restaurants and his “first-day friends” who had “always believed in him.” He also liked expensive jewelry and clothes. He had a $4.5 million gated estate in northwest Atlanta that spanned nearly 10,000 square feet, had a massive bar and a gourmet kitchen, and rain gutters made from pure copper.
But heavy spending is coupled with a lack of financial literacy and sound money management advisors. Iverson’s wife, for instance, paid insurance on 14 cars — five of which belonged to Iverson, two to herself, and the rest to friends and family members whom Iverson supported. Each month $12,000 in car insurance was billed to Tawanna’s AmEx. She also paid for a $25,000 gambling debt Iverson never paid to Caesars Palace, $50,000 to reimburse the family’s personal assistant, and tens of thousands each month to cover Iverson’s security detail and the family’s household staff.
By 2011, NBA teams weren’t interested in Iverson. Relying on an annual $800,000 payment from Reebok as part of his lifetime contract with the shoe manufacturer, most of that would pay bills that had piled up during the year. Ultimately, the pair divorced and in a 2012 hearing, Iverson would say that he didn’t “even have money for a cheeseburger.” Tawanna opened her wallet, and handed him $61.
Iverson’s house was foreclosed on, he defaulted on payments for the Mercedes-Benz, he faced a judgment for $895,000 in jewelry that he just didn’t pay for. He even moved money around so it would seem like he had no money for debtors to seize. Still he partied like he was a superstar.
In February 2013, when his property was foreclosed, he moved into a hotel in Charlotte, NC for months.
The book, which will be available June 2, is just one of the recent biographies released about Iverson. There’s also a Showtime documentary that traces his career and pop culture impact, called simply Iverson.