Tallahassee, FL -
He went from being poor to a millionaire... but ended up behind bars and then back at square one. Now former FSU football star Tamarick Vanover is back in Tallahassee and opening up about his checkered past.
We first got a glimpse of his undeniable talent on the football field in the late 80s and early 90s at Leon High School. Tamarick Vanover then took his talents to Florida State University. "Well actually my first choice was the University of Miami, but I'm glad that I did decided to go to Florida State because I had a great career at Florida State," says Vanover.
A great career- but a short lived one. The kick returner played just two seasons on this field before taking his talent to the pros. He says that decision was for his family.
"Because we were struggling financially, I can remember rats being in the house and I was just like man I can't sit by and just take this," says Vanover.
He played one season with a Canadian Football League expansion team in Las Vegas... and then signed his first NFL contract with the Kansas City Chiefs. That's where he made one of the biggest plays Monday night football has ever seen. During the opening week of the season, in overtime of the Chargers-Chiefs game...Vanover catches the punt on his own 14 and then 86 yards later- he was in the zone.
"Just to see the fans faces and you had guys like Marcus Allen and Neil Smith toting you off the field, that mean a lot to me. Those are some great players- hall of famers and for them to lift me up off that field was like 'wow, what have you done here,' says Vanover.
He was at the top of his game...with the lavish lifestyle to prove it.
"I had a Mercedes Benz drop top, I had a BMW, I had Expeditions and I had a Lexus," Vanover says as he reminisces.
He could do no wrong in the eyes of Kansas City fans.
But that lifestyle came crashing down when federal investigators came knocking at his door. The football star pled guilty to a felony charge of aiding and abetting in the sale of a stolen vehicle. He agreed to cooperate with federal authorities in their investigation of drug-trafficking and stolen-vehicle rings. The Chiefs released him after the feds unsealed records showing he helped finance a marijuana trafficking ring that involved former Chiefs running back Bam Morris. "It wasn't necessarily greed or anything like that, but you know you develop these relationships with different people and different players in the League and you try to help them out as much as you can and it was just a bad judgment call on my part where I tried to help somebody else out who was struggling," says Vanover.
Vanover spent two months behind bars.
"That first day you really realize, okay- this is for real now. I was in there for two days before I ate any food or drank anything and it was just like a culture shock to me," adds Vanover.
In 2002, He tried to resurrect his football career, but was cut after just seven games with the San Diego Chargers. "It was a time after I was released, after I got out of lockup or whatever, after I got off the paperwork, that it finally hit me like a ton of bricks and I was just like 'Can you believe that you were making millions of dollars and now you went to zero, you're not making anything?'
Vanover is back in school, studying sociology at FSU. He's also helping out on the sidelines. He has this advice for young athletes.
"These guys making millions of bucks but don't know how to spend it. They don't know how to react to the riches and I just want to say to the young and upcoming guys- make sure that you have someone on your team that knows about finances, knows about the street life," says Vanover.
Here is the complete interview with Tamarick Vanover: