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Jay-Z Gives Skylar a Benz, NFL Players' Families Beg for Money

Skylar Diggins and Tyron Smith

The NFL draft was just a few short weeks ago, but at least one draftee admits to family already stressing him about game checks he hasn’t yet received. Tavon Austin, drafted at #8 by the St. Louis Rams, says he has family members popping up out of the woodwork to count his dollars before he has even received them. He told NFL.com that it seems everyone expects money from him. That’s a lot of pressure at the tender age of 22 years old.  I hope Austin keeps his head up and his wallet closed or else he’ll end up being drained financially and mentally like Dallas Cowboys’ Tyron Smith.

Smith told the Dallas News that his family has been after him for money ever since he was drafted in 2011. After agreeing to a give them a specified “substantial” amount of money the calls and harassment didn’t stop. Smith estimates that his family--and a financial advisor that they recommended he use--has taken him for at least 1 million dollars.

I’m really proud of Smith and Austin for speaking out about this subject. Athletes who go broke are often the subject of jokes and stereotypical assumptions that they spent everything on jewelry and cars. But it’s becoming increasingly clear that many athletes are supporting family and friends and being scammed by advisors and agents—something that can happen to any of us.

While we’re on the subject of advisors and agents, Jay-z and his company Roc Nation surprised recent signee Skylar Diggins with a brand spanking new Mercedes as a graduation gift. Diggins has become quite the star over the past couple of years and was drafted #3 overall by the Tulsa Shock of the WNBA. This is a great way to welcome Diggins to the Rocnation but it’s also strategic move to attract more ready-made stars to the Agency. I have no doubt that there are some up-and-comers trying to decide what agency to sign with who are now thinking about how much they could use a new Benz.

Diggins’ college rival Brittney Griner is also becoming quite the celebrity. She’s been speaking up about LGBT rights and this week she told ESPN that her coaches and the athletic department at Baylor asked her to keep her sexuality a secret. Yes, the school that Griner led to a national championship conspired to shame her into living her life semi-closeted presumably to protect the school’s image and brand. Yet another reason why the NCAA’s insistence that these are amateur athletes and ‘students first’ doesn’t quite jibe with the truth.

In NBA news, the Conference Finals are starting with the San Antonio Spurs facing the Memphis Grizzlies and the Indiana Pacers facing the Miami Heat. I expected the Pacers to beat the Knicks but I didn’t expect quite the implosion that happened during the series. The way the series played out left the Knicks with a lot of questions. The team’s star Carmelo Anthony shot well enough but couldn’t create anything for others and well-paid big man Tyson Chandler all but disappeared giving the Knicks none of the post presence they needed to compete. The good news is, given the way JR Smith played they have a great chance of keeping him at a reasonable price.

This wraps up this week’s sports notes. Did we miss anything?

Jessica Danielle is a speechwriter and blogger who covers sports with wit and ardor at PlayerPerspective.com.