Life post-retirement can be hard for athletes as they try to live up to the fame and fortune of their athletic glory. Unfortunately, most athletes struggle post-retirement. Investopedia.com pointed to research that showed that 78% of NFL players filed for bankruptcy within two years of retiring, with the same has happening to 60% of NBA players after five years of retirement. Yet, there have also been notable exceptions with some transitioning to a successful second (or even third) career and have made their name in different industries. With that said, here are four notable athletes with noteworthy second careers:
Earvin “Magic” Johnson is one of the NBA’s greatest ever. He is a 5-time champion, 3-time Finals MVP, 3-time MVP, 9-time All-NBA First Team member, and 12-time All-Star. He retired in 1991 after testing positive for HIV, unretired in 1996 for a brief comeback, then retired for good that same year.
In 1997, Magic founded Magic Johnson Enterprises after learning from 20 successful CEOs. Magic then invested in movie theaters, and soon partnered with Starbucks to bring stores to urban centers heavily populated by African Americans. Today, the former Laker is worth an estimated $700 million and is a stakeholder of Los Angeles’s Dodgers, Sparks.
Richard Seymour is an all-time great defensive player, having helped the New England Patriots win three Super Bowls. He finished his illustrious career with seven Pro Bowl appearances, three First-team All-Pro nods, and two Second-team All-Pro Selections. He retired in 2012 and soon pursued a passion of his: poker.
What initially was just a hobby soon became a profession, and a good-paying one! Poker.org’s feature on athletes who are poker stars highlights how Seymour turned his hobby into a full-on career, with over $600,000 in live tournament winnings. He also finished 3rd in the $25,000 PokerStars PCA High Roller in 2018 and made it to the World Series of Poker main event in 2019 (where he finished 131st out of 7,874 players for a $59,295 payout). Today, Seymour continues to compete in tournaments and is regarded as one of poker’s stars.
Mary Carillo is a former tennis player. Her best year as a pro came in 1977 when she won the French Open mixed doubles title with the great John McEnroe. In all, Carillo’s career was rather unimpressive, especially when compared to the others in this list. But she has more than made up for it with an impressive second career as a sports journalist.
Carillo started in 1980 as part of the USA Network. She took her talents to ESPN in 1988, and would, later, serve as a tennis analyst for NBC Sports and The Tennis Channel. Aside from her commentary work, Carillo is also an investigative reporter, notably for HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel, where she won a Sports Emmy in 2006 for the “Outstanding Long Feature” (for her profile about the Hoyt Family). Today, Carillo continues to be a respected sports journalist, mostly doing commentary for tennis.
Dwayne Johnson is a former two-sport athlete. Johnson began his athletic career as a football prospect, having earned a scholarship at the University of Miami in 1991. Unfortunately, Johnson’s football career did not pan out, so he gave professional wrestling a shot, following in the footsteps of his grandfather, Peter Maivia, and father, Rocky Johnson. It was here he became The Rock — one of the WWE’s most successful personalities.
The Rock made his big-screen debut in 2001 as the Scorpion King in The Mummy Returns. Since then he has become an A-list celebrity, even topping Forbes.com’s list of highest-paid actors in Hollywood. Johnson earned $87.5 million from June 2019 to June 2020, as well as $23.5 million alone for the Netflix film Red Notice (due out this year). The high salary is well deserved, as Johnson’s as become a film industry in his own right and has even taken the lead in established franchises like the surprisingly entertaining Hobbs and Shaw. Today, Johnson is one of Hollywood’s favorite leading men, and even has a TV show based on his life.