This is Vin Baker’s world these days. This is the same Baker who grew up in Old Saybrook, Conn., and went on to become one of New England’s all-time great collegiate basketball players at the University of Hartford. It’s the same Baker who won Olympic gold in 2000, played in four NBA All-Star Games and spent 13 years in the pros, including parts of two seasons with the Celtics.
It’s also the same Baker who battled alcoholism toward the end of his career. That addiction, plus a series of financial missteps ranging from a failed restaurant to simply too many hands dipping into his gold-plated cookie jar, combined to wipe out nearly $100 million in earnings.
Now 43, newly married and with four children, Baker is training to manage a Starbucks franchise. He thanks CEO Howard Shultz, the former Seattle SuperSonics owner, with this opportunity. He’s also a trained minister who savors work at his father’s church in Connecticut. Most important, he has been sober for more than four years.Shultz knows a thing or two about starting from scratch. He grew up in a housing project in Brooklyn and only attended college because a scout for a small college in Michigan chanced to see him quarterbacking his Canarsie High School team. Turned out that he was not good enough to play even small college football, so he paid his way through school bar tending and waitering. Neither of his parents had even managed to graduate from high school.
His first job was as a trainee for Xerox, wandering the hallways of Manhattan skyscrapers poking his head in each office to ask, 'Do you need a photocopier?' It was a long road to billionairedom, well told in his 1999 book Pour Your Heart Into It: How Starbucks Built A Company One Cup at a Time.
Best of luck, Vin.