By Bria Overs | Word In Black

Credit: Edyoucore

(WIB) – Drew Hawkins, founder of Edyoucore, has seen his fair share of athletes who’ve risen in fame and money. He also knows what’s on the other side: bankruptcy, foreclosures, business failures, and overall struggle.

Before heading out on his own, Hawkins spent 28 years in financial services at Morgan Stanley. His final role there: managing director and head of global sports and entertainment.

Athletes are often drafted as young as 18-years-old, which means, “They’re in positions where it’s kind of the worst time for them to be getting the most money [many] of them will ever make in their lives,” Hawkins says.

This meaningful time in a player’s life is the inspiration and motivation to start a company focused on athletes’ particular and unique needs. “Educating you is core,” the basis of their name, shows how imperative it is to provide financial education and literacy.

While focusing on performance and winning games is important, Hawkins believes professional athletes must also see themselves as the CEO of a multimillion-dollar business.

Edyoucore focuses on complex issues by educating, empowering, and equipping sports players and entertainers with the tools they need to understand and deal with their business, financial, and lifestyle affairs.

Greg Oden, former professional basketball player with the Portland Trail Blazers and Miami Heat, is their ambassador. And the Baltimore Ravens are among the first teams to offer Edyoucore to their players.

“I saw the good, the bad, and the ugly,” Hawkins tells Word In Black. “I saw why people got sued, and I saw activity from rogue advisors. We’re able to equip them with things they need to look for in their advisors, and we’re able to challenge them on their sides of things that they should be thinking about doing and not doing.”

Black Athletes Have a Lot to Gain and Lose

Boosting Black athletes’ financial literacy is essential for sustaining wealth and creating opportunities for themselves, their loved ones, and the community.

The Institute of Diversity and Ethics in Sport’s yearly report found that Black athletes dominate in America’s favorite sports.

They account for 71.8% of the National Basketball Association (NBA), 70.3% of the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA), 56.4% of the National Football League (NFL), 24.9% of Major League Soccer (MLS), and 7.2% of Major League Baseball (MLB).

Statue of NBA star and former Chicago Bulls player Michael Jordan outside of the United Center in Chicago, IL.
Statue of NBA star and former Chicago Bulls player Michael Jordan outside of the United Center in Chicago, IL (2021). Credit: Fredrick Lee / Unsplash

For college sports, where many athletes get their start, Black male student-athletes make up 17.9% of participation across divisions and 8.9% of female student-athletes.

As these players make their way into national success, playing on bigger teams with more fans, there’s money to be made — and a lot of it. 

LeBron James, NBA star and power forward for the Los Angeles Lakers, earned an estimated $431.9 million since the start of his career 20 years ago — making him the highest-paid basketball player in NBA history. 

As for the WNBA, Jackie Young, guard for the Las Vegas Aces, is the highest-paid player at $252,450 per year. Players for the WNBA are not exempt from the gender pay gap and make less than 1% of what NBA players make.

Over in the NFL, Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson is the third highest-earning football player with estimated earnings of $266.3 million throughout his 11-year professional career.

In some ways, athletes do not have the privileges like other career paths where people can afford to make mistakes. “In professional sports, unfortunately, that’s not the case and not the situation,” he says.

Moving From Shame to Empowerment

Professional athletes retire much younger than the average American, usually in their 30s. And even with the money they have amassed in their careers, they are not always prepared to live off the earnings.

For Hawkins, it’s all the more reason to push Edyoucore forward. 

“We still have so many of these players, individuals, and entertainers that aren’t able to sustain themselves to the degree that they could or should once they finish on the court or the field.”DREW HAWKINS

Finance is a large part of Edyoucore’s business. They offer a “FinFit Report,” a kind of audit and analysis for athletes and entertainers. Using third-party professionals, they look over various contracts, tax returns, retirement accounts, and more to evaluate risk and sustainability.

With a thorough report, Edyoucore reviews and provides insights and direction for the next steps.

Hawkins has another focus area he wants to bring to the table — mental health and well-being.

Edyoucore’s programming uses a support group format to create a safe space for players to work on feelings of shame, learn how to set boundaries, and acknowledge financial trauma.

“We want to be a disrupter to the system that has allowed things to go unchecked for so many years,” Hawkins says. “We’ve got to incorporate this type of training into the process to empower and enable these individuals to come in and have a better understanding and make better decisions around their work.”