In every professional athlete’s journey, there comes a time when the ball stops bouncing, the cheers become silence, the locker room is no longer a place of camaraderie, and the lights go out. This is a pivotal moment in the life of those elite individuals who have been placed on a pedestal for their physical prowess and enhanced skill set on the court, field, arena, and beyond.
How does one handle that moment is the question at hand or at least that was the main question when Sib’s Breakfast Club hosted Cocktails & Conversations with eight former premier athletes. Taking place at an undisclosed loft space in the city of Chicago, Sib’s Breakfast Club is a safe space from Black professionals to speak freely, openly, and honestly while networking. On this cold windy city evening, all those in attendance were eager to pick the brains of Cliff Levingston (NBA Champion), Kendal Gill (Charlotte Hornets), Dr. Lloyd Walton (Milwaukee Bucks), Mark Aguirre (NBA Champion), Courtney Duncan (Chicago Cubs), Montell Griffin (WBC Lightweight Champion), Dr. Gregory L. Primus, MD (Chicago Bears), and Roshaun Bowen (FIBA Basketball League).
Moderated by the eloquently savvy, Serita Love of Success Junkie, the conversation was a true eye-opener to the somewhat harsh reality athletes face after leaving the game. Almost every person on the panel stated they went through some form of depression once the lights went out. How does one go from being a modern-day superhero to living as Clark Kent once the cape comes off? According to the panel, you must redefine your purpose or find your purpose. Many pointed to spending more time with their children as solace for life after the game. Several of them stated you go from a life where everything is done for you to learning to live a life where you truly have to take care of yourself. While the traveling, accolades, and sense of competition all meant something to each of them, the one thing that stood out the most was the sense of brotherhood and camaraderie was built in each of those locker rooms. The true dilemma for all of them was redefining their purpose in life and figuring out a way to still make money.
Athletes like Cliff Levingston were happy to retire because he created businesses while he was still playing and found his passion for entrepreneurship. Mark Aguirre owns a champagne company alongside his long-time friend, Isiah Thomas, and Dr. Primus went on to be an orthopedic surgeon. These are just a few of stories we heard about creating a life after the game Everything from trading stock via the foreign exchange, establishing mental health facilities, and life consulting businesses were the directions some of the honored gentlemen mentioned as avenues to generate income.
At the end of the day, these gentlemen are human just as any of us are. The only difference is they lived life in front of the camera while playing the game they loved as children. On this evening we were all reminded that no matter the stage, we all have to endure life’s ups and downs while finding ways to truly find and embrace our purpose.