Child support, bankruptcy trail former NBA player Caffey

By BRENDAN KIRBY
AI.com
10/21/2007

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Jim Altman, a lawyer who represents Caffey in a Georgia child-support case, said Caffey's $4,250-per-month obligation is far outdated. "As an NBA basketball star, he was making millions of dollars," Altman said. "It kind of goes to show how the system fails people like Jason."

Caffey, 34, was a standout power forward and center at Davidson High School who went on to the University of Alabama and the Chicago Bulls. He later signed a $35 million contract with the Golden State Warriors before finishing his career with the Milwaukee Bucks.

Records at U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Mobile claim more than $1.9 million in debts against nearly $1.15 million in assets.

The records show Caffey earns $11,500 a month from two sources: JAC Enterprises, an endeavor that invests in real estate; and Allstars Developmental Academy, a day care center on Springhill Avenue. Caffey said three more such day cares are set to open in Mobile on Tuesday.

He also owns 1608 Sports Bar and Grill on St. Stephens Road.

More than half of Caffey's reported income -- $7,000 -- goes to alimony and child support. "Who wouldn't have trouble with that after retiring five years ago?" Caffey said.

Caffey's assets include a $175,000 home on Fearnway Drive in Mobile, a $14,000 1967 Buick Wildcat, a $34,000 2006 Dodge Charger, two NBA championship rings he won as a member of Michael Jordan's Bulls and nearly $4,600 in household goods.

His ex-wife, Bebe, sued Caffey for divorce last year and got their $800,000 home in Roswell, Ga. Several other women have also sued Caffey for child support.

Lawyers for some of the women said they do not oppose Caffey's bankruptcy filing, since the law prohibits debtors from escaping child-support obligations.

"In fact, that would be better, because he would have more cash available for child support," said Randy Kessler, who represents Lorunda Brown of Lawrenceville, Ga.

Caffey's bankruptcy documents list his obligations to Brown at $70,000, although a document filed by Brown pegs the amount, including interest on the arrears and attorneys' fees, at $112,736.

"Since February 2007, he's paid not a penny," Kessler said.

A judge in Fulton County, Ga., held Caffey in contempt last month for failure to pay child support and ordered him arrested. Altman has asked the judge to set that arrest order aside until the bankruptcy is resolved.

Altman said in an interview last week that he would try to work out a settlement in the Brown child-support case.

"No one needs $5,000 a month in child support," Altman said.

Kessler said Brown understands that Caffey's income has declined since his NBA career ended.

"She's always been willing to discuss reducing it, but he has never discussed it," Kessler said. He added, "We wouldn't be a stickler for $4,250 a month."

Roby, meanwhile, alluded to the giant contract that Caffey signed with Golden State when he left the Bulls after the 1997-98 season.

"What happened to the $35 million?" Roby asked.

Caffey said the $35 million figure is misleading. After taxes, he said, the amount was about $17 million, and he missed out on $12 million of that when his NBA career ended with three years left on his contract.

He said his ex-wife got half of his money in the divorce.

Caffey said he has invested about $2.5 million on his business ventures in Mobile, creating jobs for about 65 people.

He said he believes his children will be better off in the long run if he can build the businesses. "It's generational wealth now," he said.

Nikki Brown acknowledged that Caffey voluntarily set up $125,000 trust funds for each of their two children and allowed her to tap into them when she struggled after Hurricane Katrina.

"One thing I can say financially is when Jason had money, he always paid me," she said. "He did take care of us when he was in the league."

Said Nicole Fuller, an Illinois woman to whom Caffey owes $80,000 in child support: "Jason isn't a bad person. He's a good father."

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