Former Chicago Athletes: Where Are They Now?

What do star athletes do after their playing days are over? We tracked down a onetime Bears cornerback who’s now a practicing dentist and a missionary; a former Blackhawks star who copilots jetliners; an ex-Cub who became a jazz trumpeter; and more

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STEVE TROUT »
Clem Haskins, then and now

CLEM HASKINS

THEN Guard, Chicago Bulls (1967–70)
NOW Farmer

Even as a young point guard, Clem Haskins was preparing for his exit from basketball. In 1968, after his first season with the Bulls, Haskins bought a parcel of farmland in central Kentucky, where he had spent his boyhood starring in hoops and also working a mule-drawn plow, cutting tobacco, hauling hay, and milking cows. “I was almost raised under a cow,” he says.

“I always had tremendously strong hands and wrists. I got that from milking 15 or 20 cows every day.”

After an NBA career of nine seasons, the first three in Chicago, Haskins became a top college basketball coach, taking the University of Minnesota to the Final Four of the NCAA tournament in 1997. But two years later, his legacy was forever stained by a case of academic fraud involving several of his players. The scandal cost Haskins his job and caused the NCAA to banish him from coaching for seven years.

By then he had amassed more than 600 acres of gently rolling farmland surrounding the property his parents had once sharecropped, and there he found solace and purpose. Today, Haskins, 68, tends a herd of 200 Black Angus cattle and grows soybeans and corn. Each day during the winter calving season, he checks his herd for heifers in labor, puts out hay, and makes sure the animals have water to drink. “If you keep your farm in tiptop shape, like I do, there’s something to do 365 days a year,” he says.

“I enjoy getting my hands in the dirt. I enjoy watching things grow—corn, tobacco, my animals, even the grass.”

Haskins says he doesn’t look back on the scandal at Minnesota, though it’s clear that the memory haunts him. “It’s not easy when you’re accused of things you know didn’t happen, but there’s nothing you can do about it,” he says. Late in 2009, he was invited back to Williams Arena in Minneapolis for a celebration honoring the 1989–90 team he led to the NCAA tournament’s Elite Eight. Unsure of the reaction he’d receive, he went anyway. When his name was announced, the crowd erupted in cheers, and his former players urged him onto the court, where they embraced him. “I’ve shaken hands with presidents in the White House,” Haskins says, “but that’s one of the highest moments of my life. I was crying like a baby.”

 

Photograph: (Haskins, then) Paul Shane/AP; (Haskins, now) Tamara Reynolds

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3 years ago
Posted by Thane Of Cawdor

You'd think this guy growing up in Gary, Indiana and playing for the White Sox and he appeared as being a small town guy who found suucess and that he would be a decent guy but from all the accounts I've heard this guy is a total a**hole! Jerk!!!

3 years ago
Posted by OneTimeBlue

It's interesting that I came across this article, because it had recently crossed my mind as to what had become of some college athletes. In particular, Mark Aguirre, Teddy Grubbs and Terry Cummings from DePaul's NCAA glory days. Maybe you could do a follow-up story on these guys and other college and high school phenoms that did not complete a pro career, but were still a part of Chicago's sports history. As for this article, I am very impressed and pleased at the way you have taken several excellent role models for young athletes and shown them in a positive light. Please continue the good work.

3 years ago
Posted by left out

What about Tom O'Hara, the first native of the U.S. state of Illinois to break the four-minute barrier for the mile run. He accomplished this feat in 1963 when he ran the mile in 3:59.4.

He also held the world record for fastest mile in indoor track, which was set when he ran the mile in 3:56.6 on February 13, 1964. He later beat that record on March 6 of the same year with a time of 3:56.4, a world record that stood for fourteen years.

3 years ago
Posted by kjbsawb

THANE OF CAWDOR: you are a buffoon. An individual as uneducated (look at your grammar) and uninformed (White Sox?) should not be permitted to post comments to any blog. Carmen was a fan favorite and player's player because of his generosity and fiery competitiveness, among many other great qualities. It is obvious you have some personal ax to grind, and I doubt you you have ever held as much as a minimum wage job. Carmen was the ultimate in class as Cub, and he is certainly all of that as a human-being. Several friends of mine and I know this from personal experience.

2 years ago
Posted by HOME RUN BANGKOK

@THANE OF CAWDOR...u must be talking about a different Steve Trout...the one I know who pitched for the Cubs/White Sox/Yankees and Seattle,is a classy gentleman and one of the nicest guys I have ever met. One I am proud to call a friend!

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