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MARCH 17, 2021

Building a legacy, one hoop at a time

On the court, Glenn Robinson III is known for his standing vertical jumps, something he’s worked at since high school when he bought special shoes that promised to give him an edge and slept with weights around his ankles.

For the former Sacramento Kings small forward and shooting guard, basketball is clearly his life’s passion. But to play his best, it’s not just what happens on the court that matters. Robinson recently started working with Richard Kraker, director, private wealth advisor for BMO Wealth Management, to help him articulate his goals and bring his finances under control.

Off the court

If the name Glenn Robison sounds familiar, it’s because Glenn III is the oldest son of Glenn “Big Dog” Robinson Jr. Glenn Jr. was an All-Star and still holds the rookie-year record for his 10-year $68 million contract with the Milwaukee Bucks in 1994, the year Glenn III was born three-months prematurely at just three pounds.

Glenn Jr. was busy playing for the Bucks and later the Atlanta Hawks and Philadelphia 76ers. Because of the demands of his father’s career, Glenn III was primarily raised by his mother Shantelle Clay and grandmother in Gary, Indiana. The first time his father saw him play was in high school.

Nonetheless, father and son did forge a relationship, and basketball was a big part of it. By the time Glenn III entered the National Basketball Association, he had some ideas about how a professional basketball player should manage his money.

“I would see him drive his cars and go to his house,” he says. “I was able to learn from him, but my situation was different and I had to learn it on my own.”

Even basketball players have to budget

At the University of Michigan as a Wolverine, Robinson took a personal finance course through the school’s sports management department. Huddling in Professor Len Middleton’s office with another teammate, Robinson learned about budgeting, saving, and investing.

“[Middleton] gave me a piece of paper that said, here’s how much you’ll make if you’re the 40th draft pick with a minimum contract of $580,000,” Robinson recalls. “He had me write down everything I thought I had to pay. Then he showed me what I would actually be paying, like insurance and taxes, and I didn’t have any of those things down. I realized I would only be receiving half the money I thought I would.”

As circumstance would have it, Robinson was the 40th draft pick in 2014. Instead of the million dollar-plus contract he had been dreaming of, his career started off much more modestly.

Budgeting continues to be the cornerstone of Robinson’s finances, something Kraker has helped him hone. Robinson’s current budget balances his spending, which includes supporting his two-year old daughter, Ariana, and maintaining homes in Sacramento and Indianapolis, a holdover from his time as a Pacer. His budgeting also has an eye on the future.

“[Kraker] helps me with the small details about where my money is going,” Robinson says, like pointing out if he’s spending too much on dining out or Amazon purchases in any given month.

Robinson has also had to learn bigger money lessons, like saying no to friends and family who wanted to cash in on his success.

“At the end of the day you can’t take care of everyone,” he says. “I have a family I need to provide for.”

CEO of his own team

While Robinson puts in the work to play his best, with daily practices and private workouts, he knows that no one player can carry an entire team—no matter how many weights they sleep with. Success depends on the contributions of multiple players. That’s the same philosophy he applies to his money.

“My profession is being a basketball player,” Robinson explains. “I attain my money by playing this game, and I don’t know everything about finances. Getting a financial advisor was recognizing that I need someone who has my best interests in mind.”

Along with Kraker, who oversees Robinson’s portfolio of investments, budgeting, and helps him evaluate business ventures and investment opportunities, he also works with his agent, accountant, and lawyer.

“The goal is to make sure that everyone is working in Glenn’s best interest so he can focus and accomplish his goals,” notes Kraker. “But in the end, I want him to know that he’s the one making the decisions.”

It’s a sentiment that Robinson shares: “I am my own CEO.”

Free from worry

Prior to working with Kraker, money was a constant source of unnecessary concern. Bills didn’t always get paid on time and Robinson worried about making poor financial decisions. With a financial team behind him in the last year, he was able to focus on his game. Last year was a career season for Robinson, which saw him averaging 11.7 points in 28.8 minutes per game and increasing his three-point average to 39.1%.

It’s hard to say if the two are related, but Robinson is grateful to be unburdened from day-to-day financial concerns. “Glenn didn’t have to focus on those things anymore,” says Kraker.

A lasting legacy

After seven years in the NBA, Robinson is looking to the future. “This profession only lasts us 10 or 15 years, 20 if you’re lucky,” he says. “You have to be really smart about how you manage your money.”

When his basketball career ends, Robinson dreams of owning 300 acres in the Michigan woods where he can hunt and fish in solitude. While he’s wistful about that future, he’s not nearly as starry eyed about his desire to create a legacy. Generational wealth has often eluded Black Americans. Robison is determined that his family will be different.

He wants to make a broader impact, too. Last year Robinson started the Ari Foundation, named after his daughter, which stands for Angels Are Real Indeed. The nonprofit works on empowering fathers and strengthening families through events and mentorship.

And he’s dipping his toe into business ventures that align with his health and fitness brand. Robinson recently made an investment in Human Improvement, a protein company, as well as an organic sports drink. He is also interested in commercial real estate and finding other ways to generate cash flow.

“He gets pitched all the time,” Kraker explains. “We vet them together but I sit back and listen. He’s the one leading the conversation and making the decisions.”

It’s all about empowerment for himself and his family.

“One of the most powerful things is passing on generational wealth, and I set out to do that,” he says. “It’s not just about my daughter, it’s about really changing my family and my community.”

Even off the court, Robinson is aware that the work he puts in now will pay off in the future. As the CEO of his team, he’s driving the vision forward, but he finally has the right team in place to make a reality.