Athletes’ Families Steal Millions

By Savannah Malnar

Not much is worse than the feeling of being betrayed; an even worse feeling is being betrayed by family. Unfortunately two professional athletes in two different sports have been in the news the past few days for this reason.

On Wednesday, it was announced that Ryan Howard of the Philadelphia Phillies had finally settled the legal battle that was being waged between him and his family members. Howard had entrusted various family members, primarily his twin brother, to manage RJH Enterprises. After deciding to look more into his own finances Howard found that these family members had been taking advantage of his earnings; his mother had authorized payments of roughly $2.8 million to various family members without his knowledge. The suit was settled out of court and no details have been presented.

The day after that settlement was reached, news broke that Jack Johnson of the Columbus Blue Jackets had been forced to declare bankruptcy due to his own parents’ reckless spending of his money. Back in 2011, three years after firing his agent, Johnson signed $30.5 million contract with the Los Angeles Kings and gave power attorney to his mother. Since then, she borrowed roughly $15 million in very high-interest loans in Johnson’s name in order to apparently purchase a beach house and cars and to pay for their travel expenses. Johnson was not aware of these loans, even for the large house; he was told the money for the mortgage came out of the will of a recently deceased relative.These two stories are incredibly sad. The families certainly felt a sense of entitlement to the athlete’s earnings and went to extreme measures to get what they felt they deserved. The sport media has done an excellent job of remaining focused on the primary aspect of both these stories: the players were betrayed. A source close to Johnson said that he is hurt and confused, as we all would be when faced like something like this.

Some leagues, including the NHL, have information sessions for rookie athletes that warn them of working with uncredited agents or financial advisors. But Greg Wyshynski of Yahoo! Sports said it best in his article about Johnson: “But it’s one thing for a League to say “don’t trust predatory lenders.” It’s another thing for a player not to trust his own mother with his finances.”