But when he arrived in Dallas a decade ago, Bryant started his NFL career nearly $1 million in the hole.
As it turns out, he spent quite a bit of money during his college days.
The only problem?
The money wasn’t his.
Ultimately, Bryant’s expensive spending habits from his college days caught up with him. In fact, the beginning of his NFL career included two lawsuits over purchases he was supposed to pay off once he signed his rookie contract.
Dez Bryant dominated on the field at Oklahoma State University
A true born-and-bred Texan, Dez Bryant drew the attention of numerous colleges because of his football prowess. In his senior season at Lufkin High School, he racked up more than 1,200 yards and 21 touchdowns.
The All-American pass-catcher had plenty of options when it came time to choose his collegiate path. Although he visited other Big 12 schools, Bryant signed with the Oklahoma State Cowboys. That represented a massive win for a program that almost never landed such a highly-rated recruit.
Bryant didn’t make an impact in his college debut, but he more than made up for that the rest of his freshman campaign. By season’s end, the physical wideout totaled 622 yards and six touchdowns on 43 receptions.
His sophomore season still ranks as one of the most impressive you’ll ever see from a collegiate receiver. Bryant earned consensus All-American honors after racking up 87 receptions for 1,480 yards and 19 touchdowns. He also scored on two punt returns.
That proved to be the top of the mountain (at least in college) for the talented wideout.
His junior campaign ended after just three games. On Oct. 7, 2009, Oklahoma State announced that their biggest star had been ruled ineligible for violating an NCAA bylaw. According to ESPN, Bryant lied to the governing body when he was asked if he had visited NFL Hall of Famer Deion Sanders at his home and worked out with him.
While he still became a first-round pick, Bryant had to spend a decent chunk of his rookie contract taking care of bills he racked up well before he signed on the dotted line.
The receiver’s expensive tastes in college eventually caught up to him
Dez Bryant plays a flashy position. And he really liked flashy objects back in college.
According to the Associated Press, a pair of lawsuits filed against Bryant in 2011 totaling $861,350 largely stemmed from unpaid gold and diamond jewelry and tickets to see the Cowboys and Mavericks in the playoffs. He allegedly got everything on credit with the understanding that he’d pay up once he signed an NFL contract.
The legal filings included receipts that dated between June 2009 and June 2010. Bryant didn’t sign his rookie contract until the third week of July, exactly three months after he went 24th overall in the 2010 NFL draft.
In one lawsuit, Eleow Hunt said he extended a line of credit to Bryant based on a request from the receiver’s adviser, David Wells. The co-defendant in the case claimed he had done the same procedure with his cousin, Michael Crabtree, just a year earlier.
“Mr. Crabtree ended up doing exactly what he said he would do, so my client felt pretty comfortable about how this worked,” said Hunt’s attorney, Beth Ann Blackwood. “Both [Bryant and Wells] continually assured him up to about last July that he was going to get paid. Then Mr. Bryant dropped off the radar screen and Mr. Wells about a month later. Neither would respond to my client.”
The second lawsuit filed against Bryant came from a New York jeweler that sought $246,000 for unpaid jewelry.
Bryant ultimately took care of business
Starting your career in debt is never a good thing. But owing almost $1 million before you collect your first paycheck takes thing to another level.
Luckily for Dez Bryant, his first NFL contract allowed him to take care of business…eventually.
In April 2011, ESPN reported that he reached a settlement in the smaller of the two lawsuits filed against him.
Seven months later, Bryant succeeded in saving a few bucks in his second lawsuit. In November 2011, ESPN reported that he settled with Hunt to put an end to an expensive case involving unpaid jewelry and sports tickets and unpaid personal loans.
Although the jeweler and ticket broker sued the football star for more than $600,000, he didn’t get quite that much.
The NFL receiver reportedly paid between $400,000 to $500,000 and the case got dismissed.