As a triumphant general or caesar was driven in his chariot past the cheering crowds along ancient Rome’s parade route, the same servant holding the laurel crown above his head also whispered in his ear: “Remember, you are mortal.”
Darius Miles was a poor kid from East St. Louis. His mom drove a bus to keep him fed. He hit the equivalent of the lottery when he realized the dream of too many local youngsters: He was picked in the 2000 NBA draft right out of high school and signed a $9 million contract.
In 2001 he appeared at his old school, East St. Louis Senior High School, for Darius Miles Day. He wore diamond earrings and a big silver cross and big diamond ring and told the other teens: “I’ve treated myself to a little bit of jewelry to reward myself.”
No one was whispering in his ear.
Sixteen years later he is bankrupt. He has $460,385 left from his millions — if he sells his house and car — but owes $1.57 million.
He is not supporting his own child, with $20,000 in debt listed to care for his daughter. His son’s college fund of $84,900 is a creditor target. His job prospects are limited.
Then we learn that 60 percent of the former NBA players file for bankruptcy within five years of retiring from the game. Too much money, too little maturity, too few voices of reason among their friends.
You won’t find that high a bankruptcy rate among farmers, doctors, teachers, lawyers or carpenters. You won’t find that bankruptcy rate among bus drivers.
So do the youth in your life a favor and repeatedly whisper this to them: “Remember, you are mortal. Get an education.”