Transitioning Athletes Can Learn From Kobe Bryant and Nnamdi Asomugha

One of the most common feelings among athletes transitioning to a life after sports is one of loneliness. Now out out the spotlight and away from the camaraderie with their teammates, an athlete feels alone while entering the next phase of his or her life. In reality, this is far from the truth as there is a huge number of athletes who have undergone the same transition – some easily, some not so much. By seeking guidance and advice from those who have found a second career, you can learn the best path for you during your own transition.

A career as a professional athlete is unlike any other career both in terms of potential income and longevity. When an athlete retires, they are typically in their early 30s compared to the average age of retirement in other industries, which is 62-65 according to the U.S. Census Bureau. While some will likely be financially set based on their earnings made during their playing careers (both on and off the field, court, etc.), the majority of athletes need to find a second career.

Far too often we hear about former athletes in the news for going broke in retirement. This could be due to a variety of reasons: inordinate spending habits without the same income, bad financial advice from agents/family members/etc., or poor planning. Future Hall of Famer and five-time NBA champion Kobe Bryant offered young athletes some financial advice in an article for CNBC – prepare for a career off the field, but do not just consider the most lucrative path. He said, “Once you retire, you do not have that source of income that’s been coming in. Even if you save over a 15-year career, if your spending habits remain the same, eventually the well will run dry.”

To best set yourself up for a second career, Bryant recommends asking yourself a very important question,”what is my passion?” Ideally, this passion will also lead to a fruitful second career, but sometimes athletes (and non-athletes alike) instead ask themselves, “where can I create the most value or generate the most revenue?” For athletes, this thinking could stem from the desire to make a similar income to support the lifestyle they were afforded during their playing days.

Former NFL cornerback, Nnamdi Asomugha, acting in “Crown Heights.” Photo via Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

As many athletes who have found a second career can attest, both Bryant and former NFL Pro Bowler NnamdiAsomugha highlighted the importance of finding something that you are passionate about in the same CNBC article (read the full thing here). For Bryant, his passion after basketball is investing in entrepreneurs. He and his business partner, Jeff Stibel, have invested in 15 businesses together and in 2016, the duo unveiled a $100 million venture capital fund.

Asomugha, who played 11 seasons in the NFL, decided to plan for a second career during his second NFL season after witnessing a close friend get cut unexpectedly. During his playing career he gained experience as a broadcaster (much like Vince Carter) through regular appearances on a radio show and as a co-host of “Sports Sunday” in the Bay Area. He has also found a passion in acting and producing, which he was fortunate to get involved in right after his football career ended.

Both Bryant and Asomugha have played at their sports highest levels – the NBA and NFL, respectively – for many years. Each retired in his thirties, which is young in comparison to the average age of retirement. While professional athletes are clearly the exception to the rule when it comes to retiring, it is essential for them to think about a life after sports as a playing career can often end without warning.

For current athletes and those beginning to think about what is next, both Bryant and Asomugha (players who have transitioned themselves) echo a sentiment similar to other contributions on the VIKTRE Career Network: find a passion outside of sports that is worthy as a second career.

For more articles pertaining to finding a passion outside of sports, check out Prince Fielder‘s newfound passion and Zach Zenner‘s future plans, both previously published on the VIKTRE Career Network.

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