"I'm not broke. I'm just not liquid," 45-year-old Evander Holyfield argued earlier this month upon narrowly avoiding a court appearance on charges that he was around $9,000 behind in court-ordered child support payments for one of his 11 children.
But there's no denying that as recently as two weeks ago, the "Real Deal's" 54,000-square-foot, 109-room, 17-bathroom home was set for auction due to a $10 million loan default.
Holyfield's most recent moves have answered questions that have long perplexed much of the sports world. Thing is, those same responses have also left us even more confused.
All the "Why-does-Holyfield-keep-fighting?" questions have now given way to thoughts of how can any one human manage to blow through some $200 million in riches before so much as embarking on life's golden years?
In Holyfield's case, the answer to both questions is pretty much the same: The four-time heavyweight champ still fights because he feels he needs to.
He spent and squandered so lavishly because, well, he felt he needed to do that, too.
Consider it the curse of being a world-class athlete, the maddening sense of invincibility and entitlement that simply seems to come with the territory. It's a formula that's proven as deadly as any opponent. One that can cut short careers as quickly as it depletes bank accounts.
Michael Vick and Mike Tyson both had it.So did Marion Jones and Latrell Sprewell. In fact, so do roughly two in every three NBA players, according to a recently published Toronto Star article that assures that some 60 percent of them are guaranteed to be destitute within five years of retiring.
With that, it becomes clear that the same indomitable spirit most athletes take to the field with themisthe same mindset they carry into their everyday existence.
But in the real world, such "a-world-is-mine" mentality doesn't translate quite the same. And clearly there can be a price to pay for that. Like the Wu Tang Clan said, "Cash rules everything around me," but these guys actually start to believe that.
Sociology professor Todd Boyd said on a segment of ESPN's Outside The Lines, when attempting to delve into the mind of the modern day athlete, "You find that there are many people who are depending on this person, who are looking up to this person and who see this person's success as their own success," he said. "As you go up the ladder, it's not always easy to simply say to them, 'OK, now I'm in this new position. Would you back off?'"
Lest, before long, it can all end just as it has for Holyfield, Vick and Sprewell, a trio that collectively grossed upwards of half a billion dollars over their careers…only now find themselves forced into the throes of bankruptcy.
In the Toronto Star article, the Raptors' forward Jason Kapono tried to shed some light on just how things begin to spiral out of control.
"A lot of players get in trouble because they want everyone around them to lead the same lifestyle," he said. "You buy this big house for people, and they no longer want to drive the low-end car to go with the big house. So the big house leads to the big car, to the better clothes, to the better restaurants and stuff. It's a snowball effect. You see how guys live."
And now we see how it can all end. Here's to hoping a picture is truly worth thousands.
Glenn Minnis is a New York writer.