Professional sports are an aspirational dream job for many, no matter where they are in life: You get to showcase athletic talents at the highest level imaginable and get paid millions and millions of dollars to do it. Your “job” is far from a nine-to-five and you get an offseason that makes school summer breaks look like an eternity. It’s a dream job for pretty much… everyone.
Except Larry Sanders. The Milwaukee Bucks forward walked away from the NBA after five years in the league shortly after last week’s trade deadline. He agreed to a buyout of his $44 million contract. According to Business Insider, he left $21 million on the table, though managed to net at least $30 million over the course of his career.
Today, in a candid exclusive given to Derek Jeter’s site, the Sports Tribute, Sanders talked about why he walked away from the NBA with millions of dollars on the table:
As a person who grew up with nothing, I know money is important. I’m incredibly grateful to have had the chance to play in the NBA. But at the same time, that’s not what fuels me. I’ve never chased money. It’s never been how I define success. Happiness isn’t behind a golden gate.
Watch the video above and read more about him over at Business Insider. It’s a classic “money doesn’t make you happy” story. More or less, the job and spotlight of the NBA didn’t make him happy. Basketball was more a means to an end and skateboarding and music and other pursuits were his real passion, according to this profile in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.