Learning from other's mistakes

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How many times have you heard someone tell you not to make the same mistakes they did? To learn from their mistakes, so you don't fall victim.

How many times did you actually listen, though?

Antoine Walker, who had an incredible 12-year NBA career, is hoping Steelers rookies listen.

Walker recently spoke to the team's rookie class, part of the program the team offers the young players as they adjust to life in the NFL. He shared with them his story, shared with them his experiences, and his wish is simple…that they don't make the mistakes he did.

Walker made $108 million dollars in his 12 NBA seasons. Two years after he was finished playing, he was bankrupt. He lived a lavish lifestyle, accumulated insurmountable gambling debts, had bad business investments and never said no to those from his past who asked for something.

"I came into the NBA when I was 19 years old. I had the great fortune to make a lot of money at a young age," said Walker. "I just know they are about to embark on a new journey in life and be able to make a lot of money. They have to make a lot of decisions when it comes to that and I want to make sure they make the right decisions. Don't make the mistakes I made. I made a lot of mistakes as far as careless spending early on, not saving the proper way, and I want to make sure I shared that story with them and they do the right thing. I don't want them to just prepare for now, but to prepare for when they are 35-40 years old.

"We don't plan for our future. We live in the moment. The thing I try to do is show guys I am still a young man. I went through a lot. I never thought I would be in the position I am in. But it's real life. It's tough to ask a young man to save 30-40 percent of what they make, but if I can share my story and show them that this happens."

Walker's words, and his ability to climb back out of his misfortune, didn't fall on deaf ears.

"It meant a lot for him to take his time out and come talk to us," said rookie Bud Dupree, a product of the University of Kentucky just like Walker. "He showed us the ropes and all the things that we need to look out for that people do to dig in your pockets and how to invest your money while you are still in the league.

"You hear from a person who has been through it it's a big plus. It's all real life. When real life things happen it stays in your mind a lot longer."

Walker is making it his mission to share the message with as many young athletes as he can, because he doesn't want anyone to follow the path that he did.

"It taught us about being smart and having the right people in our circles," said rookie Sammie Coates. "He told us everything he went through and how he got back on the straight path. He told us to stay focused on what we came here to do and take care of your business, don't worry about the world. It was very good for us to hear it.

"It's always good to hear it from somebody who has been through it and had to struggle. It opens your eyes to reality that it can happen to anybody if you don't have the right things going on in your life."

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