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At BIFF: ‘Gone in an Instant,’ wealth vanishes for pro athletes

“The NBA and NFL are trying to help rookies in financial literacy. Each player attends a seminar, but that seminar is only one day, and one hour at that.” -- Executive producer Kerry Rhodes

How much money is enough? $10 million? $20 million? $50 million? How about $110 million — should be set for life, right? This is not the case for three-time NBA all-star and 2006 NBA champion Antoine Walker, who earned $110 million over a 13-year NBA career and who also filed for bankruptcy in 2010. But how does one do this? Anthony Holt’s film “Gone in an Instant” attempts to answer this question, and is entered in the juried competition this weekend at the Berkshire International Film Festival, with screenings in both Great Barrington and Pittsfield.

I was able to talk to executive producer Kerry Rhodes to gain a greater insight into the film. Rhodes had a special connection to the piece, as a former professional athlete himself who played in the NFL from 2005-12 and now has a career as an actor and producer in Los Angeles. He commented: “You have young kids — 18, 19, 20 — coming into the NBA and NFL, coming into all this money and all this freedom and all these people who know better than you. It’s extremely hard — it’s hard to differentiate between friend and foe.” Financial literacy has been a difficult thing for many athletes, their quick rise to fame giving them a form of monetary whiplash. And although an intensely personal narrative, Walker’s story is by no means an isolated event. Mike Tyson, Allen Iverson, Vin Baker, Michael Vick, Lawrence Taylor, Terrell Owens and Sheryl Swoopes are all athletes who have lost at least $50 million.

And even more, according to a 2009 Sports Illustrated study. After two years, 78 percent of NFL players struggle financially while, after five years, it is 60 percent for NBA players. Rhodes remarked on his own experiences, saying that: “The NBA and NFL are trying to help rookies in financial literacy. Each player attends a seminar, but that seminar is only one day, and one hour at that,” and that the leagues can “certainly do better” in this regard. Rhodes labeled the film, “A cautionary tale that can help to inform and possibly change this widespread issue.” While in part an instructive reflection, “Gone in an Instant” also attempts to portray the complexities of Walker’s own financial decline.

When this story first broke out in 2010, the media was quick to categorize Walker’s story as another example of an athlete’s irresponsible gambling and lavish lifestyle. While a lot of that is true — Walker himself admits to his gambling problem and extravagant spending — the majority of Walker’s issues came from his poor real estate investments, crippled by the 2008 recession. Another thing that Walker blames his bankruptcy on was his own generosity, saying that he helped around 30 of his friends and family “move to better situations.” It was this part of Walker’s story — his humanity — that drew Rhodes. “At first when hearing the story, you think, ‘Another dumb athlete that blew his money gambling, partying,’ and there is some truth to that. But also, at the heart of the story and the heart of him, is that Antoine is just a really authentic, genuine, kind person.” Walker has been very open about the mistakes of his past, hoping that they can be used to educate others. Rhodes commended Walker for his ability to “bear the true extent of his flaws and mistakes to the camera.”

Anthony Holt, left, and Antoine Walker, right, speaking on MSNBC. Image courtesy MSNBC

Anthony Holt’s and Kerry Rhodes’ “Gone in an Instant” is a film that finds its strengths in its intimate look at a tragically flawed character whose own mistakes can serve as a larger lesson. “Gone in an Instant” will be competing in the Berkshire International Film Festival’s Juried Prize Competition, being screened Friday, June 1, at 3:45 at the Triplex Cinema in Great Barrington and Sunday, June 3, at 11:45 a.m. at the Beacon Cinema in Pittsfield.

Works Cited:

Egan, Matt. “Ex-NBA Star Went from $108 Million to Bankruptcy,” CNN Money, Cable News Network, July 24, 2015.
Hartnett, Tyler. “Why Athletes Go Broke and What We Can Do About It,”, May 3, 2015.

See the trailer for ‘Gone in an Instant,’ below:


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