From NBA All-Star To Starbucks Barista To Championship Coach, Vin Baker’s Life Has Come Full Circle
Vin Baker is celebrating his 52nd birthday today, so it only makes sense to take a look at his incredible life story.
Baker was a beast during his prime, which resulted in him playing four consecutive All-Star games in four of his first five NBA seasons.
But after being traded from Milwaukee to Seattle, his short prime came to an end. Baker then became somewhat of a journey man who unfortunately was struggling with alcohol. The alcoholism is the main reason his career got derailed, especially during his later years in Seattle and during his time with the Boston Celtics, where he would show up drunk for practices, only to get sent back home again.
“I didn’t come from a party background, but once I’ve started to drink and hang out and party, it went from casual and fun to ‘I really need to drink’. Now I have to do it to survive, because my body is not responding without it. So it got really bad…
There were times where I had to [be drunk during NBA games]. The pressure of maintaining this level of basketball made me anxious. I would have withdrawals, the shakes, the noise of the crowd…
‘Maybe I’m not as good as I thought I was’, because I didn’t realize I became an alcoholic.”
After his career, due to some bad investments and his addiction, Baker lost all of his money.
“The name ‘Vin Baker’ at that time wasn’t good. All the stories, all the rumors, all the money lost… I couldn’t fight it at that point. I was already humbled. I had done so much wrong – with alcoholism – some of the choices that I morally made was against god and everything that I stood for, and everything that he wanted me to be.”
This had led to Baker reaching rock bottom. Baker reportedly lost over $100 million due to financial trouble. His home was foreclosed and put up for sale. This is when it made click in Baker’s head.
His last rehab in 2011 was successful, and Baker hasn’t drunk alcohol ever since.
“I had a real conversation with the lord. ‘I need you now!’… And I cried out going to rehab. I all needed to just get physically well, so that I wouldn’t have seizures. My spirit was made up and I knew that the maintenance was gonna be coming to the lord and coming to church and pray.”
After his successful rehab, former Seattle Supersonics owner, Howard Schultz, who also is the CEO of Starbucks, gave Baker, who played for his team in the early 2000s, a second chance. Baker who was an NBA star not too long ago, had switched his NBA authentic jersey for a green apron to open up a Starbucks at 4:30 in the morning:
“I consider Howard family and a close friend. He did take a chance on me and I’m grateful for that opportunity that he gave me to come in here, put that green apron on and to wake up in the morning to open up a store for 4:30… a lot of peace.
Coming out of recover, I need a place where I could grind and work… literally and figuratively I had a lot of things I was going through and this is where I found that place… at Starbucks.”
After taking this opportunity, Baker’s life came full circle. He wrote a book, became an NBA broadcaster and eventually an assistant coach for the Milwaukee Bucks, on his long journey home. in 2021, he therefore was part of the Bucks’ championship team and can now call himself ‘NBA Champion’ What a great man, with an even greater life story that could teach everyone a little bit about life.