There are a lot more considerations and resources available for professional athletes these days than there have ever been in the past. In terms of providing athletes with education about life and work after their playing days are over, much has changed. In contrast to the past, there are now measures in place so that the retired athlete is fully prepared for when those big paychecks stop coming.
Such was not the case several decades ago when Junior Bridgeman played professional basketball. Athletes were largely left on their own to fend for themselves, without education or advice about how to save and invest their substantial earnings. Left to their own devices, many were simply not prepared for the financial responsibility that came after professional sports. All too many ex-athletes ended up spending away all of their fortunes, and some have even ended up in poverty. Their lives have ended up a far cry from the lifestyles they had grown accustomed to while playing professional ball.
Bridgeman is a strong exception to this story. Although he retired from professional basketball about 35 years ago, long before athletes were being educated about money management and investing while still playing, he intelligently sought counsel and invested his earnings very wisely. Although Bridgeman is long since retired from the NBA, he could be described as anything but retired. He is currently the president of Bridgeman Foods, LLC, which owns and operates over 160 Wendy’s franchise restaurants across the country, as well as 118 Chili’s restaurants. His net worth is estimated at about 240 million dollars.
Bridgeman played in the NBA from 1975 to 1987, most of those years with the Milwaukee Bucks. His number was retired in 1988 by the Bucks, a high honor for a player who did not start very many games and who spent most of his career as the 6th man. Despite this, he averaged in the double digits in scoring for most of those games, making him a Milwaukee sports favorite and a name still remembered and recognized in Wisconsin to this day.
The name recognition these days is as much because of his tremendous business success and savvy as for his respectable basketball career. Many of the restaurants he owns are located in Wisconsin, and he is known to be a very conscientious and hands-on owner. He has even been seen helping behind the counter if the need arises.
Bridgeman is a shining example of proof that there is life after professional sports, and that the end of one career could mean the beginning of another successful chapter of life. If one is intelligent, resourceful and willing to seek advice when needed, there are no limits to what one can achieve. Hard work, diligence and a touch of humility helps as well, and Junior Bridgeman continues to slam-dunk it long after his jersey has been retired.