As a teenager, Spencer Haywood joined forces with future American Basketball Association All-Star Ralph Simpson in guiding Detroit Pershing high school to a Michigan state title in 1967. In 1968, Haywood was a leading player for the United States team which won a gold medal at the Olympics. He then played one year for Detroit Mercy.
As a teenager, David Choe stole, shoplifted, broke things, caused chaos and exacted revenge via aerosol. After graduating from high school in 1996, he went on a two-year world tour. When he returned from his adventure, he attended California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland, dropping out after two years. He stole art supplies and books, and robbed every frat house in Berkeley before getting caught and doing a week in lockup. Despite the constant drama, his artwork thrived.
In 1970, shortly after making his professional debut, a company by the name of Blue Ribbon Sports approached Haywood with a financial offer in exchange for Haywood promoting the company’s shoes. The offer was either $100,000 or a 10% ownership stake in the firm.
In the early 2000s, Choe’s work caught the eye of Sean Parker, founder of Napster. In 2005, after Parker became president of another startup, he hired Choe to deck out the startup’s original headquarters in Silicon Valley with murals. Choe was offered $60,000 or shares of the startup’s stock.
Haywood’s agent recommended he take the cash, so he did.
Parker recommended that Choe take the stock, so he did.
So both men took the advice of people who allegedly were in the best position to provide such advice.
Blue Ribbon Sports changed its name Nike to Nike in 1971, and today that 10% ownership share would be worth nearly $14 billion dollars.
The company Choe did the mural for was Facebook, and when it went public in 2012, Choe’s shares were worth $200 million.
And who said there’s no luck involved in getting rich?
*image from Citizen Planet.com