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This story appears in the May 2 issue of ESPN The Magazine.
ESPN The Magazine asked athletes to share some stories of how they've been approached by outsiders since they come into some serious cash. Simply put, big bank accounts also carry some unforseen baggage.
Heath Bell - San Diego Padres
|When women approach Heath Bell, he has trouble believing it's because of his chiseled physique.|
"I don't have as much trouble with gold-digging women as other guys do, but that's because I'm married and don't have a rock-hard body. It's always funny when women say things like, 'Ooooh, you look good.' I don't. I'm the fat guy."
"Recently I was on a radio show with listeners calling in. A person gets on the phone claiming to be a distant cousin through some person I'd never heard of. Eventually, she hints that she needs help with a business idea and anything I could do to help would be appreciated. Afterward I talked to my mom about it, and she said, 'Um, no. This person does not exist.' I have a lot of fake family these days."
"My favorite was a guy who hit me up recently on Facebook, asking for donations to a charity that didn't sound legit. I hadn't spoken to him since elementary school, and we weren't close enough then to play together at recess. Next thing I know, he's my good friend and wants money. He even played the Christmas card: 'During this holiday season, I hope you think of this organization.' Oh, okay, I haven't spoken to you in 15 years. I'll give you money."
"I've had phone calls straight out of Boiler Room, with some random guy from Long Island calling and saying, 'Scott, don't play games, you have to give me this money now, this is a great opportunity.' And I didn't know who it was or how he got my number. That's why I leave all financial decisions to my money guy or my dad, who is an intimidating presence. My money guy sends me examples of how athletes go broke, and it's effective. Since I was a kid, there have been two things I've been afraid of: going to jail, and working. It's all about freedom. And I need my money for that."
"If all people are asking for is a little time, or an autograph, it's no big thing. I know that something small to me can be huge to somebody else. What I don't understand are the requests I get from guys I've never met. They won't ask me for tickets; they'll tell me I should be giving them a pair. Or they'll tell me I should ship them some team gear. I'm like, 'Do I even know you?' "
|Ryan Lochte has been a familair target for his family members.|
"Ever since I did well in the Olympics and signed with Gatorade and Speedo, my family has been killing me! My little brother will say, 'Hey, Ryan, have you seen the new Rolex? Pretty nice, right?' He won't say, 'Can I have money to get this watch?' He'll just beat around the bush. But my dad is the worst. We'll be in the bike shop, and he'll say, 'I really like this motorcycle. You can see me on this, can't you?' I'm like, 'Dad, come on, I got you. Just ask!' But then he'll say, 'Oh, wow, look at that new house,' and I have to tell him to take it easy."
"I get a lot of ideas thrown my way. Some people will even come to the stadium or find me when I'm at home in Panama. One time, I was going to a CVS when some guy said, 'I have this idea.' I listened to him; it doesn't cost me anything to listen. After that, I take their business card, and then I pray about it. Most of the time, I don't do anything else."
"I once invested in a concert against the advice of my business people. I put up $50,000 for a show featuring big-name artists, like Rick Ross, Plies, Fabolous, Trina and Waka Flocka Flame. They sold a lot of tickets, but the organizers said they didn't sell enough. In the end, I got only $25,000 back. That was a tough lesson about the importance of saying no."
"A few months ago I got a note on Facebook from an old high school sweetheart. I hadn't spoken to her in years, so I thought I'd give her a buzz. Catch up. I called, and right away she starts crying and says that I'm her soul- mate. Then she saying she and her son moved from Texas to Florida to be closer to me. I deal with this all the time; women who say on the second date, 'We have to step this up to the next level,' or talk about moving in. It didn't take me long to recognize what she was doing. I said, 'No thanks, baby. I'm all good.'"
"For a long time, it seemed like all my money went toward feeding my friends. If I ate out, they were coming -- and I was paying. So I got smart. Recently, 10 of my boys and I went to a fancy restaurant. When the $2,000 bill came, I snuck away and hid by the exit to see what everyone would do. They started arguing: Who brought their wallet? Who left it at home? Who doesn't have a job? Who ate more? They nearly started fighting. But it worked. Now they know: If we're going out, bring money."
Sam Alipour, Lindsay Berra, Patrick Cain, Louise Cornetta, Sean Evans, Tim Struby and Seth Wickersham contributed to this story.