All those that know me, know that I am a huge (that is not a fat joke) sports fan. I pay attention to all sports, but I especially love basketball. I have been fascinated with the sport since a very young age. One of my favorite times of the year is when the NBA Draft happens in June. In the draft, every team is dreaming of drafting the next Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant or LeBron James. Every fan is praying that their team doesn’t miss on the next Michael Jordan (scarred Blazer fan here) and on the same token, every player is dreaming of becoming the next mega star of the NBA. How many players, say a week before their dreams come true, do you think are sitting around thinking about their career being over? None, right?
Unfortunately, this week, that isn’t true. Isaiah Austin is a sophomore out of Baylor University. He is a legit 7-footer, which in the NBA, almost guarantees you a draft pick and a better then decent shot at sticking in the league and making a nice long career for yourself. That will not be the case for Austin. Austin, who in the spring, became well known for the triumphs he has achieved on the basketball court after announcing that he has played high level competitive basketball since middle school, with only one eye, made another startling announcement. He has Marfan syndrome, a disease which attacks the connective tissue of your body and also causes the enlargement of arteries. His competitive basketball career is over. Over, before it ever truly got started.
I am not sure why this has hit me so hard. A young man’s dreams dashed? Maybe. Perhaps, because I am only beginning to realize mine. It could be that I had the unique opportunity to watch Mr. Austin play while he was in high school. I was in the gym when Austin hit a half court shot to propel his nationally ranked high school basketball team to a 1 point win over our very own Trinity Christian School. I also was in the gym, when those same Runnin’ Lions of TCS took down Mr. Austin and his #2 ranked team in the nation with late game heroics of their own (the gym was packed to the gills, and I will never forget how loud it was). I watched his name rise and fall on the draft boards and marveled at how a player of that caliber had been in the gym in Lubbock, Texas. This was the first time that I knew I was watching a future NBA player before they even graduated high school. Now, of course, that will not come true. Immediately, my thoughts go to his parents and his family. I think about the dreams dashed and the financial security that would have come with the NBA contract are now gone. That was, until this afternoon, when news surfaced that he had taken out an insurance policy.
Austin will be able to claim a insurance policy of over 1 million dollars. This type of policy is common for elite athletes and prevents against a career ending injury hindering all earning potential. Now, I understand not all of us are elite athletes, I mean, I am close (ha!), but most of us aren’t. So what does this story have to do with us? It gets me thinking how insurance is an integral piece to your financial planning. If I died today, I know that my family would be taken care of. This is an assurance that I am able to have because of the term life insurance policies that I have. The monthly premiums are affordable, equal to a couple rounds of golf or a steak dinner. It is a necessity in our budget and something that is a non negotiable.
No one ever wants to think of their time coming to an end abruptly. It is not a fun topic. As Isaiah Austin found out this week, nothing is guaranteed, please do not wait for tragedy to happen to evaluate your insurance situation.