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10 Surprising Bankrupt Athletes


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Sheryl Swoopes
Former WNBA player Sheryl Swoopes attends the 2011 NBA All-Star game in Los Angeles. Jason LaVeris / Getty Images
Former WNBA player Sheryl Swoopes attends the 2011 NBA All-Star game in Los Angeles. Jason LaVeris / Getty Images

With a name like Swoopes — a perfect combination of "swish" and "hoops" — this women's basketball phenom was destined to be a legend. Sheryl Swoopes dominated on the court from day one, regularly scoring over 50 points in her college career, and winning four WNBA championship titles, including three MVP crowns. Dubbed the "female Michael Jordan," Swoopes became the first female athlete to have a shoe named after her: the Nike Air Swoopes [source: Conway].

WNBA money isn't NBA money, but Swoopes earned $90,000 a season and supplemented her income with stints in international leagues and with endorsements from Nike and other brands. Unfortunately, like many other young athletes who grew up poor, Swoopes admits that she didn't know how to manage her newfound wealth and surrounded herself with the wrong people. When she declared bankruptcy in 2004, she owed more than $700,000 to creditors, including $275,000 to the IRS [source: Robbins].

Swoopes' financial situation got so bad that when she was released from the Seattle Storm in 2009 — after attempting a Jordan-like comeback in her late 30s — she couldn't afford to pay the rent [source: Conway]. In 2013, Swoopes settled into a stable job as the head coach of the women's basketball team at Loyola University Chicago.


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