An MLB pitcher lives in a van? An NFL player drives with Uber? Fun money lessons from pro athletes

My story on money lessons from athletes. Click to read at Grow.
My story on money lessons from athletes. Click to read at Grow.

I did a fun story for the folks at Grow last week about athletes who’ve managed their money well. LeBron James and Steph Curry — who will be squaring off for perhaps the last time this evening — are obvious choices. But I had more fun writing about the NFL player who’s an Uber driver on the side (everyone should dabble in the sharing economy) or the MLB pitcher on the other end last year’s dramatic David Price trade — he lives in a van. Really. (Stay true to your roots). So here’s a taste of those stories. But you can read the whole piece, and get a word of advice from each, at Grow, the magazine for Acorns.

Daniel Norris: From bike shop to van

Baseball’s biggest mid-season trade last season saw the Detroit Tigers trade all-star lefty pitcher David Price to the Toronto Blue Jays. Coming back to Tigers in that deal was a man who lives in a van. Really.

Also a lefty pitcher, Daniel Norris climbed steadily through the Blue Jays minor league system quickly after he was drafted back in 2011, which certainly created a price surge for toronto blue jays tickets. The trade opened some doors for Norris, 23, He’s now tearing it up at AAA and threatening to crack the Tigers starting rotation.

He’s earning $500,000 annually and received a $2 million signing bonus. But he lives on $800 a month. And yes, he lives in a 1978 Volkswagen van he calls “Shaggy.” Norris’s family has owned a bicycle shop in Johnson City, Tennessee, for more than 80 years, so he likes the simple life.

“I grew up with a simple lifestyle, and I knew going into professional baseball that would be tested. In my mind there’s no need for luxury, or at least society’s sense of the word,” he said to GrindTV. “I consider my life luxurious—I live on a beach with an ocean-front view, hearty meals and hot French-pressed coffee at my disposal. That’s fancy, right?”

A.J. Francis: Welcomes surge pricing

Though A.J. Francis has spent three years in the NFL as a defensive lineman, you may not have heard of him because he’s only appeared in three regular-season games. If you end up in Florida, however, you might get to know him—as your Uber driver.

Francis is still hoping to get his big NFL break: He bounced from Miami to Seattle last year, and now the former University of Maryland star has signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for a one-year deal worth $600,000. But he’s well aware that nothing is guaranteed, and in 2015, he told reporters he’d been moonlighting for $40 to $50 an hour—and practicing his interviewing skills on passengers, in hopes to one day enjoy a broadcasting career.

“I’m not putting all my eggs in one basket. When you have a job, where are you when that job is over?” Francis told The Associated Press. “Just like I’m a world-class athlete, I’m a world-class driver.”

Ronda Rousey: No. 1 for her pet

Becoming the first U.S. woman to earn an Olympic medal in judo in 2008 was only the first barrier Ronda Rousey crashed through in dramatic fashion. As she continued her career in mixed-martial arts, Rousey eventually became a wildly popular UFC women’s champion and claimed to be UFC’s highest-paid athlete—male or female.

Her famous matchup with Holly Holm might have been one of 2015’s most anticipated fights, and she stood to earn $10 million from the bout. (However, she lost in an upset). When asked what she planned to do with the payout, surprisingly, she didn’t reveal extravagant plans to splurge. Her No. 1 priority was making No. 1 easier for her pet.

“I don’t have a (big) yard; it is a small little thing…I don’t really have many plants except for I have ordered grass to come in so the dog can pee on it,” Rousey told USA Today. “[So] I want to get some vertical gardens. I don’t think they are that expensive, though, but that’s what I want. I am a woman of simple tastes.”

Read the rest of this piece at

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About Bob Sullivan 1399 Articles
BOB SULLIVAN is a veteran journalist and the author of four books, including the 2008 New York Times Best-Seller, Gotcha Capitalism, and the 2010 New York Times Best Seller, Stop Getting Ripped Off! His latest, The Plateau Effect, was published in 2013, and as a paperback, called Getting Unstuck in 2014. He has won the Society of Professional Journalists prestigious Public Service award, a Peabody award, and The Consumer Federation of America Betty Furness award, and been given Consumer Action’s Consumer Excellence Award.

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