Barry Sanders was born on July 16, 1968, in Wichita, Kansas to William and Shirley Sanders. He was the seventh of eleven children.
His father was a carpenter and his mother was a homemaker. As he grew older, the young Barry and some of his siblings assisted his father as carpenter’s assistant.
As a child, he loved sports and always followed regional college sports on television.
Sanders attended Wichita North High School and he played football for the school. Although before high school, he was interested in Basketball. However, that changed after he enrolled in high school.
Barry started out as a tailback in his sophomore year. In his senior year, he was expected to continue being a tailback, but he was converted to a wingback.
This was a result of his small frame and lack of courage to make contact.
However, he did become a running back in the fourth game of his senior year due to the suspension of the original running back due to disciplinary issues. He performed well in that game and went on to distinguish himself through the rest of the season.
Due to his performances, he was offered football scholarships to Wichita State University, the University of Tulsa, Iowa State University, and Oklahoma State University.
Sanders accepted the offer from Oklahoma State, but that decision caused a rift between himself and his father who thought the competition in Oklahoma would be stiff.
Sanders would go on to play for the Oklahoma State Cowboys from 1986 to 1988. In his first two years, he was the backup running back after Thurman Thomas.
In 1988, Thomas joined the NFL and that paved the way for Sanders to become the starter.
He went on to be one of the most important players on the team and he won several honors.
While still a junior in 1988, Barry Sanders was allowed to enter the draft. Normally, he was ineligible as a junior but the NFL Commissioner, Pete Rozzelle allowed him to enter the draft as a special concession.
A year later, all juniors were allowed to enter the draft and he was drafted by the Detroit Lions as the 3rd overall pick in the 1989 NFL Draft.
After the draft, Sanders had a contractual dispute over pay with the Lions, but it was eventually sorted and his NFL career kicked off.
In his rookie season, he started 13 games for the Lions and he was impressive in that season, so much so that he was named the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year.
For many years he was a key part of the Lions team, helping them to reach the playoffs nine times, but his biggest shortcoming is that he never made it to the Super Bowl.
Although on a personal note, he did win some accolades including the MVP of the league in 1997. In 2004, he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
While in his prime, Sanders surprisingly retired in 1999 at the age of 31, citing a declining output by the team and the Lions’ top echelon as reasons for his abrupt retirement.
His place in Lions history is sealed and he is widely regarded as a legend in Detroit.
Since retiring from the NFL, Sanders has led a quiet life away from the glitz and glamor of the NFL. But some brands still value him enough to offer him endorsement deals.
One such company is online sports betting giant BetMGM. In 2001, he signed a multi-year contract with the sports betting giant.
Since then, he has been seen at various BetMGM functions and featured in ads for the BetMGM bonus, which is a top Sportsbook bonus for new players in America.
BetMGM has a reputation for providing its customers with various online betting freebies including new and existing customer bonuses. Little wonder it is one of the best sports betting bonuses in United States.
Right after he was drafted in 1989, Barry Sanders signed a $9.5 million contract with the Detroit Lions. Eight years later, he put pen to paper on a deal that was the biggest for a running back at the time.
He pocketed $34.5 million for a five-year contract and he also claimed $11 million as a signing bonus.
However, he retired two years into the contract and after a dispute, the court ordered him to pay back part of his sign-up bonus to the Lions.
As of 2024, Barry Sanders is estimated to be worth around $20 million. His source earnings include stocks and proceeds from endorsements.
A few years after he called time on his career, Sanders was reportedly hit by a dip in his finances. His income allegedly dropped from $6.4 million to $851,000 annually.
That resulted in a dispute with his son’s mother over child support payments. He requested that his $7,000 child support in a year be struck off. These days he lives modestly in Oklahoma.
- Real Name: Barry Sanders
- Nickname: Lion King
- Profession: Former football player
- Height: 1.73m
- Weight: 91kg
- Hair color: Black
- Haircut: Low
- Date of Birth: July 16, 1968
- Age: 55 Years
- Nationality: American
- Marital status: Divorced
- NFL Draft 1989: / Rd: 1 / Pick 3
- Former team: Detroit Lions
Barry Sanders remains one of the legends of the NFL despite his failure to get to the Super Bowl. Although on a personal note, he did rack up some important awards and accolades during his active playing days.