Jason Caffey never became an NBA star, but he did kickstart his career by winning two titles with the Chicago Bulls. Suiting up for three different franchises helped him become a wealthy man. Yet, the real number that matters is 10—which represents the number of children Caffey fathered. Unfortunately, the former Bulls forward ran into serious legal troubles that included a bankruptcy filing and thousands of dollars in unpaid child support.
Jason Caffey won two titles with the Bulls
Jason Caffey was born and raised in Alabama and ended up playing his college ball for the Crimson Tide. After a solid four-year college career, he entered the 1995 NBA draft. That draft class featured a number of future stars, including Kevin Garnett, Jerry Stackhouse and Rasheed Wallace. Chicago selected the 6-foot-8, 255-pounder with the 20th overall pick.
In his rookie season, Caffey averaged just 9.6 minutes in 57 games. Though he didn’t have a major impact on the court, he earned a championship ring thanks to Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen. The first-round pick doubled his playing time in his second season. Caffey averaged 7.3 points and 4.0 rebounds while earning 19 starts. However, it was evident that he would never become a true game-changer.
Former first-round pick earned $34 million in his NBA career
Near the end of his third year in Chicago, Caffey got traded to Golden State for David Vaughn and a pair of second-round picks. Given a more prominent role, he turned out to be a decent player for the Warriors. Caffey averaged 10.9 points and 6.4 boards in three seasons out west, including a career-high 12.0 points per game in 1999-2000.
That summer, he got moved again. Caffey landed in Milwaukee via a three-team trade. He played 144 games for the Bucks but was out of the league by age 30. Although Caffey didn’t live up to his first-round billing, he made quite a bit of money as a part-time starter.
According to Spotrac, the Alabama native earned $34 million. Caffey went from making less than $1 million in his first three seasons to getting a sizable raise in his second season with the Warriors. His highest salary came in 2003-04 when the Bucks paid him $5,687,500. However, due to Caffey’s personal problems, Milwaukee had actually bought out the final two years of his contract. Essentially, he got his most lucrative payday to not play basketball.
Jason Caffey’s legal troubles
The story of Jason Caffey took some unfortunate turns off the court. Despite earning millions during his NBA career, he filed for bankruptcy in 2007. According to AL.com, his case got dismissed in October 2008, which only opened up the door for further legal troubles. When he filed for bankruptcy protection, Caffey had listed $1.9 million in debts compared to $1.15 million in assets.
The main reason for his financial troubles boiled down to child support payments. According to ESPN, just months after his bankruptcy case got shut down, an Atlanta judge ordered Caffey to be arrested after he failed to pay more than $200,000 in child support and legal fees to one of the mothers of his children. Incredibly, Caffey actually had the law on his side when a judge later ordered Karen Russell, with whom Caffey also had a child, to pay him $57,470.50 due to a violation of rules that prohibited creditors from seeking debt collection during bankruptcy proceedings, according to Al.com.
Caffey, who starred at the University of Alabama before playing seven years in the NBA, drew national headlines for fathering 10 children by eight different women. Many of those women — including Russell — have sued for child support, which prompted him to file for Chapter 11 protection in August 2007.
Russell had sought Caffey’s arrest as part of her child support case in May 2007. In July of that year — before Caffey filed the bankruptcy petition in Mobile — a judge in Tuscaloosa County held a hearing on the matter and found Caffey in contempt. But he did not sign the contempt order until Aug. 8, 2007, five days after Caffey filed for bankruptcy.
Things are looking brighter
Jason Caffey spoke about his depression and anxiety in the Chicago Sun-Times in 2019. He went to a rehab facility to help him better understand his depression. It gave him a new perspective on life, and he ultimately seems to have turned things around.
Caffey said he still tries to be involved in his children’s lives as much as possible. He recently watched some of his children graduate high school and receive college scholarships. He felt proud of their accomplishments, and it served as another reminder to never give up.