Meet the Former NBA Star Who Walked Away From Millions For Inner Peace
Reported by Victor Ochieng
Sanders played basketball during his time at Port St. Lucie High School, where he gained wide recognition for both his height and basketball skills. He led his team to the Class 5A state semifinals. Sanders later played as a power forward for Virginia Commonwealth University’s team, the Rams.
At the University, he recorded several achievements, including 3-time CAA All-Defensive Team player and 2-time CAA Defensive Player of the Year. In 2009, he scooped Second-Team All-CAA and First-Team All-CAA in 2010. It’s from the University that he was drafted into the NBA in 2010 by the Milwaukee Bucks after declaring himself ready. He came in the first round pick as the 15thoverall.
The former player committed himself to a contract with the Bucks, but he would later be assigned to Fort Wayne Mad Ants of the D-League in February 2011, only to be recalled later in the same month. Sanders registered a great performance during the season, trailing only Serge Ibaka in blocks per game. He got the third highest number of votes in competition for the NBA Most Improved Player Award. In 2013, Sanders signed a 4-year extension of his contract with the Bucks for $44 million. Around the end of the year, he sustained an injury in a nightclub brawl that saw him miss 25 games. Even though he received citations for the act, the law enforcement officers didn’t follow up to press charges against him. In March 2014, information was dispatched that Sanders would miss the rest of the 2013-14 season due to a fractured bone.
His problems continued in the NBA during the 2014 season. The 26-year-old tested positive of marijuana, receiving a 5-game ban. He would later get another minimum of a 10-game suspension without pay in mid January 2015 for violation of the NBA’s use of substance policy. That suspension was, however, waived after Sanders accepted a $23 million buyout of the contract.
There have been reports that Sanders was suffering from depression. Kevin Arnovitz cited his use of marijuana as a way of treating anxiety and depression. Sanders also said he’s out of the NBA to pursue what makes him happy and may only be back if he feels like playing basketball again.
“I think this is seen to be a desirable, lucrative job or position. People say, ‘How could you be unhappy there? How could that be a place you don’t want to be?’ The values and the relationships of the people I love around me are my real riches. That’s my lasting wealth,” he said in his Players’ Tribune video.