By GLENN MINNIS
How does one even begin to propose the sale of "rebranding" themselves when they've somehow already managed to blow through a king's ransom before so much as embarking on life's golden years?
Even as he continues to struggle for clarity for himself, Antoine Walker vows to take on the task of answering as many of those ever-perplexing questions as he can in his new documentary "Gone in an Instant."
In a largely first-person account, the former NBA star tackles the riddle of just how he came to squander an empire modestly pegged in the neighborhood of at least $150 million one day to ultimately come face-to-face with a no-nonsense criminal court judge demanding answers about six felony counts he faced over allegedly writing at least $750,000 in bad checks to cover spiraling gambling debts.
"I think most athletes, we all kind of walk through the same walks of life and I think that they can relate to my story a little bit more," Walker said of his motivation for producing the film. "They are dealing with that type of denomination of money."
And likewise many of them appear to be dealing with many of the same demons and curses, chief among them the maddening sense of invincibility and entitlement they feel that simply seems to come with the territory. It's an opponent few other foes can match up to, one that can cut short careers as rapidly as it depletes bank accounts.
Allen Iverson and Mike Tyson had the itch. So did Evander Holyfield, Latrell Sprewell and Vin Baker. It's all enough to now have Walker convinced the same indomitable spirit most athletes take to the field with them is the same sense of imperviousness far too many of them carry over into their day-to-day existences.
At the height of his madness, Walker readily admits to partying for at least 30 days straight days, easily spending upwards of $300,000 for his own suits and outfitting at least another 50 members of his long since departed entourage with the latest fashions from Gucci stores across the country, all while they traveled to-and-from in a fleet of Bentley and Mercedes and others of them idly sat parked in his cluttered driveway.
"It really bothered me and I felt like I was getting short-changed as far as in the world," Walker said of the legendary tales now being told about his propensity for overindulgence. But can there really be ay defense for the indefensible?
Walker also heavily invested and subsequently lost in the world of real estate, once buying his mom a $4 million home that was later foreclosed on and several of them for himself of at least equal value and lavishness.
"I wasn't passionate about it when I was playing," Walker said of protecting the fortune he amassed and lost. "It just looked good to me on paper. I was like, 'OK, we're about to make this money.' And when the recession hit, the lawyers were like, 'The banks want all of their money.' They don't want empty lots. The banks are not into real estate, they are into money. Dollars and cents. They don't want more property, they are like, 'We not about to build a condo on this land.' And that's a message I have to get across to these young players."
Indeed, whatever you may say or think about Walker, you have to applaud his stance that no one else should have to go through something so crippling- if, for no other reason, it can all be easily be avoidable.
"I lost a lot of trust in a lot of people," Walker now says of his life lessons. "You know, when you are friends with so many people, whether it's professional athletes or other friends, I wasn't so much worried about a phone call, like 'Hey, I need some money,' I was more worried about, I didn't get the 'Hey, 'Toine, you alright?' Because when I was playing, the phone was ringing. I had three cellphones. All of them ringing. When you are a giver, you're a giver. Sometimes in life you have to learn that everybody doesn't care like you."
And if Antoine Walker can actually hammer home that message to all to the other young Antoine Walker's of the world, his loss and redemption could well be worth more than any amount of money he may have lost.
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