One of the primary reasons players dream of making it to the NBA is to have a better life. But while it is totally fine to enjoy the fruits of your labor, some NBA stars go overboard and blow it all. Among them was the four-time NBA All-Star Vin Baker.
Just like any other college prospect, Baker had a bright future ahead of him in 1993. The NBA was waiting to see what a 6-foot-11 finesse center could do on basketball’s biggest stage, and they weren’t disappointed. In his second season with the Milwaukee Bucks, Baker became an All-Star at age 23.
For the next few seasons, Baker would become one of the better big men in the league, earning three more All-Star appearances in the process. However, his addiction to alcohol gradually got the better of him and saw him losing more than $100 million in fortune.
As expected, Baker’s game declined as his addiction took over. And after being shipped from team to team since 2002, “Shake and Bake” finally left the league in 2006.
However, Vinnie wouldn’t let his story end that way and he found salvation in an unlikely environment- a Starbucks store.
“I understand the addiction from every single level,” Baker told Los Angeles Times last year. “I haven’t left, in my mind, all the bad things that happened. Like, I didn’t forget about it. Nor have I forgotten about four years ago when I was just putting on a green apron at Starbucks. I’m not that far in the clouds. I have an absolute responsibility to provide hope for people who aren’t in healthy situations when it comes to addiction. That precedes anything else in my life.”
A bond with Giannis
After years of rehabilitating, Baker became a management trainee in a Connecticut Starbucks establishment and soon managed his own store. In 2018, he found his way back to the NBA as a full-timer on Mike Budenholzer’s coaching staff. This led to a beautiful relationship with Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo.
It is said that everyone in the Bucks organization has a Vin Baker story and Vinnie himself shared one of Giannis.’
“One night we were talking and we had never had this conversation,” Baker recalled. “And Giannis said to me, we were at dinner, and he said ‘Coach, like, your story’s amazing. Like, I cannot believe it… it’s hard for me to even fathom what you’ve been through.’”
“He was in awe that I had made it back from what I had gone through and I didn’t even realize he knew the extent of it,” he added.
Over the years, we’ve heard similar stories as Baker’s. Sadly, not all were able to get their life back like “Shake and Bake” did.