By Kaleb Page
For anyone who plays sports the ultimate dream is to end up playing professionally and being successful doing so. If and when the time comes to go pro, not only will it be a prideful moment for the athlete, but it will also be a great moment in the lives of close family and friends. The saying goes that “blood is thicker than water” and those with whom you are related should have your best interest at heart. This week one NHL player would wish that statement was true.
Jack Johnson of the Columbus Blue Jackets is a 27-year-old defenseman that from early on in his hockey career had a promising future. In high school in Minnesota, Johnson played alongside future NHL superstar Sidney Crosby. Creating a formidable team in high school hockey that eventually won a 2003 state title. Then in just two seasons at the University of Michigan, Johnson played such great hockey, that he was drafted in 2005 with the third overall pick in the first round by the Carolina Hurricanes. Even though he was drafted by the Hurricanes, he played for the Los Angeles Kings (2007-2011) for the majority of his career until being sent to Columbus in 2012. For all his success, from the high draft choice, top defensive scorer, and even a silver medal in the 2010 Olympics; Johnson could not of imagined this day would come.
Prior to the signing of Johnson’s seven-year, $30.5 million contract on Jan. 8, 2011, he gave someone he trusted full control over his money; his mom Tina Johnson. For a lot of professional athletes trusting someone with your money is a hard thing to do and it probably makes them turn to close friends and family for money advise. This is what makes this case of another athlete losing his money so sad. Johnson gave all his trust to his parents (Jack Sr. & Tina Johnson) to handle his money, yet they did him wrong in the worst of ways.
From the time that deal was signed, Johnson’s parents were soaking it in. They began to borrow against their own son’s earnings. The first loan they signed (March 9, 2011) was a $1.56 million loan to buy a home nearby when Johnson was with the LA Kings. This loan had an interest rate at 12 percent that eventually went into default. The next day after that loan was signed the parents went and borrowed another $2 million. The next borrowing statement to me shows the most malice. On April 14, 2011 the parents borrowed $3 million from a firm that “monetizes” contracts. With these large amounts and high interest rates the parents could not pay up, ultimately leading to the parents being sued.
The parents settled out of court with the two loans suing (the $2 million & $3 million), but it was at the expense still of their son. Johnson saw $41,800 taken away from his bimonthly checks over the past two seasons; nearly a fourth of every check. To top it all off the parents spent another $800,000 on renovations to their home, a car and traveling to watch their son play. With a lot of the money being taken out of his check, Johnson started to ask what is going on?
Johnson would ask questions and yet his parents would say “don’t worry, just worry about hockey.” Flash forward to October 7, 2014 and Johnson is in a federal court in Columbus filing for bankruptcy. All of the $18 million he has earned during his nine years in the NHL is basically gone. The real news on where this situation is going broke this Thursday after it has been set that his bankruptcy hearing will be scheduled for Jan. 23 in Los Angeles.
A lot of coverage on ESPN, FOX Sports, Yahoo Sports and The Columbus Dispatch really shed a light on this story. I would like to credit the journalistic work of Aaron Portzline of The Columbus Dispatch, for getting a lot of great details and facts that allowed me to share this story. His coverage along with the major outlets has been great and showed just how troubling this story is. For all the great people do in the world of sport, there are always those out there that give it a black eye.
For the parents of Jack Johnson, they have shown that side of the sports world. The side that is sneaky, conniving and (intentionally or not) crumble people’s lives. I can’t fathom what Johnson’s emotions and thoughts are at this point but I know he wishes one phrase was truer than ever: “Blood is thicker than water.” Unfortunately for him their eye was on the prize of money, not on the best interest of their own son.