Coming into money at a young age by way of sports can be a life-changing opportunity for many within our community. However, as the great Notorious B.I.G. said: "mo' money, mo' problems." As athletes new to their respective leagues begin to physically prepare for their first season, it's of equal importance that they set themselves up for success financially.
This experience is one that former NFL player Chinedum Ndukwe—a University of Notre Dame grad, who doubled majoring in Business Management and Psychology—knows all too well. He has seen firsthand fellow NFL stars squander millions. Thus, after playing five years within the league for both the Cincinnati Bengals and Oakland Raiders, Ndukwe quietly invested and saved his funds to secure a bright future for himself. And in 2012, he formed Kingsley + Company, a successful commercial real estate development company.
Below, the real estate entrepreneur and former pro-baller, shares with the new generation of athletes, several tips to help them build long-lasting wealth.
EBONY: For many of these new players, they may have no background experience in investing their money. How might one go about picking an outlet to invest in?
Chinedum Ndukwe: As an athlete, there is a playbook that you follow in order to make the best decisions within the game. So first and foremost, I think that if there is something you're interested in and passionate about, it's beneficial to really immerse yourself in that space. For example, my wife is an avid fan of Nike so she has invested in a lot of stock in the company.
Additionally, seek out mentorship and ensure that you're humble enough to learn and and talk to people that have a lot more experience. Then, through this research, you can start to plan a timeline of when you would want to make that investment.
When it comes to rookie draft picks, we often see and associate young players with "balling out" and wanting to revel in their newfound status and financial situations. Although the goal is to ultimately be financially responsible, are there some things that you feel like might be okay to splurge in?
I was a seventh round draft pick and I wasn't doing too much balling out because there were not as many resources at the time. However, when I was a rookie, I traded my game tickets in for my housing. So the key is just getting really creative with whatever community you land in. During my time, there was so much support from local hotels. In my first year I was actually living in one downtown until I felt like I was in a good spot financially. After that, I bought my house. So new draft picks should save as much as possible and even live as if they're still living in college. Now these days with the NIL, it's changed the game for college athletes so that they can make money and get a little bit of a head start. Therefore, it's even more of a reason for young people to start looking at what they want to do long term and explore it.
I will also say that you can't undervalue your health and your wellness, especially your mental health with being in the NFL and competing on a daily basis. It definitely does take a toll on your body. Being able to have resources at one's disposal to take a break and step away from the game on your off days is equally important.
With making a significant amount of money for the first time, some may also feel an obligation to give back to the communities that built them. Can you speak to your experience paying it forward with your foundation?
I started the Ndukwe Foundation while I was playing for the Cincinnati Bengals with a strong focus on youth impact. The foundation strives to empower young people through providing opportunities that I was blessed growing up with but many underprivileged village youth don't always have access to. Therefore, we've adapted a roof down approach where we aim to focus on providing resources for parents in order to positively impact the environment that children grow up in. We've learned that this is the number one way to make an impact so we carry this mindset with all the projects we are developing.