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'Show me the money' -- or not

Public figures, like everyone else, are not immune from financial troubles. Leigh Steinberg, the high-profile sports agent who is the inspiration for the blockbuster "Jerry Maguire," recently filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection. Steinberg cites his battle with alcoholism and legal issues as factors contributing to his financial woes.

Steinberg believes the root of his financial troubles began in 2003. At that time, one of his employees left the firm and took several players with him in order to form a new agency. A legal battle soon began between the former colleagues.

The Steinberg agency was hit with an ethics claim in 2003 as well. Without Steinberg's knowledge, an employee of the firm borrowed $300,000 from an NFL client, which is in violation of player regulations. This offense made Steinberg ineligible to represent clients in the NFL, so he could not make any earnings.

Things really took a turn for the worst as Steinberg developed a drinking problem. He entered rehab in 2010, but lost complete control of his already glum financial situation while in the program.

Over the last several years Steinberg has faced legal claims regarding unpaid debts. He did attempt to make good on what he owed, but a stream of bad press surrounding his name prevented him from working off his debts.

A series of misfortunes and a weak economic climate can sink even those who are at the top of their respective fields. Leigh Steinberg is a perfect example of this. He, like many others today, ran into a lot of bad luck. Though it was a tough decision for him, he is trying to make a new start by declaring bankruptcy.

Source: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, "Sports agent Leigh Steinberg files for bankruptcy," Bernie Wilson, Jan. 12, 2012

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