The former number five overall pick in the 1999 NBA Draft had all the promise in the world, becoming the first high school draftee to score double figures in his NBA debut but unfortunately he couldn’t stay on the court.
Outside of the 2001-02 season where he played in 78 games, Bender never played more than 59 games in a season and struggled to stay on the floor when he did play, thanks to his creaky knees.
The inability to stay healthy eventually led to Bender being released by the Pacers after signing a four year, $28.5 million dollar deal. Still trying to live his dream, Bender joined the New York Knicks after a four year hiatus but struggled during his lone season in the Big Apple.
Now unable to play the game he loves, Bender is destined to make sure similar problems don’t halt the dreams of other athletes.
In April, Bender launched a company based on an odd-looking device he invented to help others avoid the knee troubles that put an end to his promising NBA career. Already, he’s brokered a deal with California-based Relax The Back retail chain, which sells wellness, fitness and medical items coast to coast.
It’s a heart warming story well worth the read.