Who are the richest 5 former Florida Gator athletes?

David Whitley
The Gainesville Sun

Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be NFL players.

That's not quite how the song goes, but it's a tune student-athletes at Florida can relate to when it comes to career earnings.

It's not that football players haven't made splendid livings after leaving UF, but Emmitt Smith would have had to play about 55 years to match Al Horford's paychecks.

Nothing against Horford, who's been a solid NBA pro. But in the pantheon of college and pro sports, it's hard to believe anyone is worth four times as much as the NFL's all-time leading rusher.

Smith made $61.2 million in 15 NFL seasons. Based on career earnings in their sports, the top four former UF standouts — all hoopsters — have made $620 million. That's almost the annual gross domestic product of American Samoa.

Here are the top 5 richest UF athletes. Mamas, do what you will with the information.

Editor's Note —We're not counting Cam Newton ($121.4 million) because he bailed out of town before anyone (except campus police) really knew who he was.

Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Joe Haden

5. Joe Haden

The only football player on our list, he was an immediate starter at cornerback when he hit Gainesville in 2007. After accomplishing just about everything a college player could, Haden turned pro after his junior season.

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Cleveland drafted him with the No. 7 pick, and Haden signed a 5-year, $50 million contract. In 11 seasons with the Browns and Steelers, Haden has made $114,471,755. That gives him an outside shot to catch the next Gator on the list.

Former Florida standout Chandler Parsons.

4. Chandler Parsons

Unlike Haden, he wasn't considered a can't-miss pro prospect. The small forward averaged 11.3 points and 7.8 rebounds for UF, good enough for Houston to take him with the 38th pick in the 2011 draft.

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Parson blossomed as a pro, making the NBA All-Rookie second team. He made 10 3-pointers in a half in 2014, the year he signed a $46 million offer sheet with Dallas. Two years later, he got a $94-million deal with Memphis.

Injuries set in and Parsons was traded to Atlanta in 2019. On his way home from practice one afternoon, Parsons suffered a concussion, whiplash and other injuries in a car accident caused by a drunk driver. It was a sad way to end a career that earned him $126,998,919.

Former UF standout Joakim Noah had a nice career in the NBA.

3. Joakim Noah

After helping the Gators win back-to-back national championships, Chicago took the stylish center with the No. 9 pick in the 2007 draft. After a solid start, he signed a $60 million contract extension in 2010.

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Noah made the All-Star Game twice and was NBA Defensive Player of the Year in 2014. He was also the first NBA star to sport a man-bun. That's probably not why the Knicks gave Noah a $72-million deal in 2016, but it might as well have been.

He struggled with a shoulder injury and New York waived him in 2018. Noah spent a season in Memphis, then played five games for the Clippers in 2020.

He officially retired in March having made $136,497,844.

Former UF standout Bradley Beal has been a scoring machine in the NBA.

2. Bradley Beal

He was one of Billy Donovan's prized recruits and led UF to the Elite Eight in 2012. Everyone knew Beal would turn pro, and the Wizards took him with the No. 3 pick.

Beal made the All-Rookie Team and evolved into one of league's best guards. After his rookie contract was up in 2016, Beal signed a 5-year, $127 million deal.

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So far, Beal has made $144,130,512. He signed a two-year extension in 2019 that includes a player option for the 2022-23 season.

If Beal declines the option and gets 10 years of service with Washington in 2022, he will be eligible for the largest contract in NBA history — $266 million.

Either way, he'll probably be King of the Gator Money Hill before he retires. But for now, the ruler is ...

Former UF star Al Horford cashed in during his long NBA career.

1. Al Horford

He was Noah's running mate on those title teams, and Atlanta took him No. 3 in the 2007 draft. Horford was an All-Star by his second season and became a dependable 16-point/10-rebound kind of guy.

That got him a $60 million extension with the Hawks in 2010. He stayed there until 2016, when he signed a $113 million free-agent deal with Boston. Then came a $97 million contract with the 76ers in 2019.

They traded Horford to Oklahoma City last December. The Thunder decided to tank the season in hopes of getting a high draft pick, so they deactivated the still-productive Horford in March.

More Gators in the NBA::Thunder to make Al Horford inactive for rest of season

Basically, he's been getting paid not to play. His future in OKC is uncertain, but the Thunder is on the hook for another two years and $53 million.

Assuming Horford retires after his current contract, he will have made $265,636,768 in his career. As it is now, he's banked a cool $212,136,768.

Nice work, if you can get it.