Five Pro Athletes Who Put Ethics Above Profits

5 Athletes Who Turned Down Money for Ethical Reasons

  • Colin Kaepernick
  • Pat Tillman
  • Daniel Norris
  • Stephon Marbury
  • Tim Tebow

Most pro athletes are rolling in money. Fancy parties, crazy nights and extravagant homes are the order of the day. That’s not the case for everyone Some superstars use their fame to promote a cause rather than a bank account. Here’s a list of five pro athletes in football, baseball, and basketball who sacrificed money to maintain their values.

Related resource: 50 Most Affordable Urban Schools for Sports Management

Colin Kaepernick

Love him or hate him, Kaepernick has become the face of activist athletes everywhere. This former San Fransisco 49ers quarterback sparked a storm of controversy when he began kneeling during the singing of the US National Anthem. He chose to kneel rather than sit out of respect to current and former military members after talking with several teammates who had completed service. Kaepernick wanted to draw attention to racial issues in the United States, including police brutality. His protests led to tweets from President Donald Trump and a large amount of negative attention from the media and NFL fans. Ultimately, he was released from the 49ers and currently looking for a team. He alleges the NFL conspired to blackball him from any possible contracts due to his activism.

Pat Tillman

Tillman was a rock star college football player until the September 11 attacks happened. He gave up a multi-million dollar contract to go pro and joined the Army. His brother, Kevin, turned down a professional baseball career to enlist alongside Pat. Both Tillmans graduated from Ranger School together in Fort Benning, Georgia. Unfortunately, Tillman’s military service was cut short by a friendly fire accident in Afghanistan in 2004. The military’s handling of the incident was criticized, as the Army waited several weeks to announce his death.

Daniel Norris

Most millionaires don’t live in a van. Daniel Norris isn’t most millionaires. According to ESPN, Norris sleeps in a renovated 1978 Volkswagen camper. He dumpster dives for food. The Toronto Blue Jays gave him $2 million to sign with their team as a starting pitcher. Why does he do it? His personal ethics. Norris wants to avoid the overconsumption and consumerism he associates with a traditional lifestyle. He’s even turned down endorsement deals from companies who don’t meet his values.

Stephon Marbury

Marbury knows what it’s like to grow up poor. He spent a childhood not knowing if momwouldd be able to put food on the table and longing for basketball shoes but knowing there’s no money for them. That’s why this NBA star founded his own line of sneakers, jerseys and basketball accessories. He’s not making a ton of profit selling shoes at $15 a pop, but he is making a lot of dreams come true.

Tim Tebow

This former NFL athlete was always known for his strong religious values. Raised by missionaries and homeschooled for a Christian education, Tebow took his beliefs seriously. He maintained a squeaky-clean image on and off the field. Tebow allegedly turned down lucrative endorsement deals with companies that didn’t mirror his values. It’s not clear if this professional athlete’s profits suffered, though, since his public displays of his faith gained him plenty of fans.

Most sports managers have to struggle to get their athletes to fulfill contractually obligated community service requirements. These five pro athletes would probably jump at the chance to lend a helping hand.