The Price (and Risks) of Moving Sports Stars


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Do you know who Dabo Swinney is? University of Clemson football fans sure do.

Dabo Swinney, for the uninitiated, is the one-time berated but now revered head coach of the Clemson Tigers college football squad. He brought a national title to the South Carolina college in 2016, pulls in an annual salary of over $5 million, and just moved into a swanky new home that, as his moving company noted, looks like a “castle”. He is what we’ll call a “moving sports star”.

As Tiger Moving assistant manager Zavh Klein reports, the 15,000 square foot house has dozens of rooms, multiple living rooms, multiple master bedrooms, a theater, a basketball court, a personal gym and, we can imagine, a whole lot more. The move-in required several days, a number of trucks and about a dozen crew members.

In case you’re wondering, the Swinney move, Klein says, was the largest private residence move the company has ever done. To use sports parlance, that’s just par for the course when it comes to relocating the things of sports stars.

Moving a Sports Icon

To say that there’s a lot of money in sports moving is a fantastic understatement. Athletes and coaches alike work hard for their millions, but doesn’t it seem pretty ridiculous at times the life of luxury participating in a game can bring? And right down to being catered to when it comes time to move to a new team and a new house.

“Plenty of perks come with being a professional athlete,” the L.A. Times explains. “But permanence is not among them. Players are traded, dropped and picked back up again with the same swift, unsentimental nature of moving pawns in a chess match.”

Poor things?

Ikem Chukumerije, with his clients, Duane Brown of the Houston Texans and his wife Devi. LA TImes

To help them cope, athlete relocation specialists have been popping up all over these days. Ikem Chukumerije, the founder of Athlete Relocation, counts NFL and NBA players among his recent clients. “My clients tell me exactly what they need,” he says, “and I walk them through how it’ll happen, and then we make it happen.” Their going rate to move sports stars can stretch to as much as $25,000.

The Dingman Group has performed over five hundred sports-related moves this year, outsourcing the various aspects of each relocation to a nationwide network of service professionals to provide for “every aspect of a player’s move — from boxing up household goods to making sure an athlete’s car is waiting for him or her in the stadium parking lot of the new city.”

With this level of dedicated service, and plenty of money to pay for it, you’d think athletes and coaches would have nothing to worry about when it comes to moving. 

Well, think again.

Even the Rich Can Be Victims

Last year, the Washington Post reported on this ugly move from D.C. to Minnesota. The customer, who we might also call a victim, was Bruce Boudreau, a long-time NHL head coach. “We’re basically getting half-broken furniture,” Boudreau told the Post. “We lost five big-screen TVs, a bubble hockey game, popcorn makers, tables. My wife used to run a business; they called her the Chocolate Lady. The chocolate fountain was destroyed. So much stuff, pictures, lots of pictures, all the frames destroyed.”

And that’s not all, sports fans.

Bruce Broudreau.

Boudreau also reports that his safe went missing in the course of his move. Inside the safe were his two Canadian Hockey League championship rings, his American Hockey League Hall of Fame ring, an engraved Rolex, and his irreplaceable collection of Spiderman comics.

The Star Tribune goes further into the ugliness, telling us how Boudreau and his wife had to sleep on the floor, not knowing when their stuff would arrive, how they found out three weeks after the fact that one of the three trucks moving their stuff got into an accident which destroyed everything being carried, how a bunch of boxes had mold on them; how he and his wife are still trying to figure out what all has gone missing; and how police investigations so far have gone nowhere.

I know I make a lot of money,” Boudreau says, putting it all in perspective. “But I can’t get my ’72 and ’75 Memorial Cup rings replaced.”

And neither can mixed martial arts fighter Chris Reilly get his world championship belts back – at least not yet. According to NBC4 in Los Angeles, Reilly stored some of his belongings when he moved. While those belongings were in storage, the storage and moving company apparently moved. After a drawn-out process, Reilly did recover some of his things, but not his belts – one that he won and others that the world champions he trained had given to him.

“I do still have the memories,” Reilly said. “The accomplishments are still mine.”

Doesn’t seem like quite enough though, for him or for Brandon Spikes, another victim who seems to have had his Super Bowl ring stolen by someone employed by the moving company he hired two years ago.

Brandon Spikes. CBS News

Courthouse News reports that Spikes originally thought he lost the ring, but when it turned up for sale online the story began to become clear to him. The buyer was assured by the online seller that the sale of the ring was legitimate, as it was given as payment to a moving company for their services. But the registered seller of the ring to the online dealer was not the moving company Spikes had hired, but in fact, one of the individual movers. Spikes showed proof that he paid his moving company the usual way – with money – and not by handing over his ring.

The ring fell into the hands of the authorities as stolen property. Presumably, it made its way back into Spikes’s possession.

Not so for another NFL player, Steve Wallace, who had not one but three Super Bowl rings go missing during a move in 2014. He also ended up with a bunch of moldy furniture, which the moving company said was a result of a tree branch puncturing the truck Wallace’s belongings were stored on.

“When you’re out there on that field working your butt off to have nice things it’s very, very disappointing,” Wallace told WSB-TV. To add insult to thievery, the moving company president simply said that “…jewelry should never be packed and (that) the case of the rings is a police matter.” Of course, he maintains no one from his company is responsible.

Another former athlete, Chicago Bears linebacker Otis Wilson, may not have lost his Super Bowl ring from 1985, but he does tell CBS Chicago that he lost a bunch of memorabilia during a 2012 move. This includes four game balls from his NFL career.

The Politics of Sports Moving

We suspect there have been many more professional athletes and coaches who have lost valuable, irreplaceable things to the kinds of movers that give the rest of us a bad name. But with this last story about moving related sports dram, there may be no one “worse” than the people we found in southern California.

These moving rogues haven’t messed with just one athlete, nor have they acted alone. Rather, they’ve banded with a whole cadre of moving companies to target one football team, bent on interrupting their move from San Diego to Los Angeles. Their sinister anti-move movement can be found right here.

From their website, “…we shall unite as a perfect union of professional movers in agreeance to not aid the San Diego Chargers’ move to Los Angeles.”

And who are the original instigators of this heinous act? The main perpetrators? The low-down troublemakers?

You may recognize their name, down there at the bottom of the page: HireAHelper.

Yes, the world of sports is, for some, a world of money and fame. But behind the glamour and the glittering stories are accounts of the same kinds of things you and I go through.

Just with a lot more zeroes at the end.


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