Former NBA All-Star Vin Baker dropped by CBS Sports Radio to discuss his new book, God and Starbucks: An NBA Superstar’s Journey Through Addiction and Recovery. In the book, Baker, 45, recounts his NBA rise and subsequent fall from grace, which was spurred by drugs and alcohol.
“It was difficult going back and revisiting all the moments and the times that were obviously some very dark, dark times in my life,” Baker said on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones. “But the encouraging part in doing it for me was to know that if I write that and I kind of pour out my story, it will give me the opportunity to help someone else who may be struggling with addiction. I can pull someone from the darkness of addiction and alcoholism. So that was kind of the light at the end of the tunnel for me: to be able to help someone out.”
Baker played in the NBA from 1993 to 2006 and retired with career averages of 15.0 points and 7.4 rebounds. Not bad for a guy who played college ball at the University of Hartford.
“I think for me coming from a small town and a small school, I always had this chip on my shoulder to prove to people that I belonged,” Baker said. “I was a four-time All-Star in five years, and I felt like in some ways I had really arrived. It took the chip off of my shoulder to prove. And of course the professional lifestyle of women, parties – all those things – overcame my drive. It overcame the chip that I had previously had to try to get to the NBA and prove I belonged.”
Indeed, after a couple of All-Star nods, an Olympic gold medal, and his own Jordan sneakers, Baker lost his drive.
“The next thing I know, I feel like I don’t have that much to prove,” he said. “Ironically, my success (is how the) downward spiral began to happen.”
Baker, however, turned his life around and is now a Starbucks manager and youth minister.
“Starbucks was kind of on the upswing for me,” Baker said. “I had gotten myself sober and put myself in a position where I could walk into a 9-to-5. In recovery, that’s a huge come-up. In basketball, in the NBA world, in the sports world, it’s like, ‘Oh, boy, he’s fallen all the way down to Starbucks.’ But for people in recovery, it was, ‘Wow, he’s functional. He can go and get a job – especially a job making customized coffee every morning.’ I’m just happy that I understood and recognized that I had come to my end as far as the alcohol was concerned and I was able to turn it around, walk into a facility, and now I’m six-and-a-half years sober.”