2023 Pro Sports Advisory Summit: Ryan Shazier & Craig Young

Professional athletes face two major financial moments during their careers. One is when they get their first paycheck, an event that often brings with it a major windfall. The second occurs as their playing career comes to an end and they recognize that their wealth must be preserved throughout their lifetime.

Recently, City National Bank hosted the 2023 Pro Sports Summit. The event aims to help athletes, business managers, advisory firms and family offices learn and grow from others in the sports world.

The event featured two keynote conversations: One with retired NFL player Ryan Shazier and one with Craig Young, the father of No. 1 NFL draft pick Bryce Young. The two discussions revealed how two players in different phases of their careers have navigated the challenges of being pro athletes.

Ryan Shazier Battles Adversity & Builds a Life He Loves

After suffering a catastrophic spinal cord injury on the football field in December 2017, Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier was told there was a 20% chance he'd walk again. But Shazier had spent a lifetime overcoming obstacles, so he approached the injury equipped with the determination required to overcome it.

Shazier joined Randie Brooks, senior vice president and senior relationship manager with Entertainment Banking at City National, to discuss overcoming adversity, using resiliency to fuel success, and managing his finances after being a professional athlete.


Early Life Lessons That Led to Future Resilience

At 5 years old, Shazier was diagnosed with alopecia, a disease that causes hair loss. “My parents were very honest with me," he said. “They told me that most people don't have to deal with this condition, but everybody has to deal with some adversity. People could see mine, but everyone has adversity whether we can see it or not."

Shazier said that this early adversity and pushing through it helped set a lasting foundation for his life. He also watched his mother deal with Crohn's disease, yet never lose her positive mindset.

When Shazier was diagnosed with scoliosis in high school and was told that he couldn't play football anymore, he relied on that positivity he learned from his mother, along with a treatment plan that kept him in the game.

Every year throughout his childhood, Shazier's father had him write goals for the year. “Then my dad would ask, 'What are you willing to sacrifice to accomplish these goals?'" he said.

That lifetime of discipline drove Shazier to watch extra film, practice extra hard, and eventually become a first-round Steelers draft pick in 2014. He relied on that same grit and drive to work towards walking again, accomplishing that goal one year after his injury.

Life After Football

Now retired from his pro career, Shazier shared about his determination and about how building the right team of advisors allowed him to transition into a thriving post-football life.

Shazier's experiences led him to start the Ryan Shazier Fund, an initiative that helps spinal cord injury patients receive the treatment and tools they need to recover and live comfortably. He also runs a logistics company and has started a gym in downtown Pittsburgh.

His advice for professional athletes? To plan for life after the playing field and to assemble the right team to help manage that transition.

"It doesn't last forever, and it can stop tomorrow," Shazier cautioned. "You can't have a winning football team if you don't have winning pieces. That's the same thing in life."

For Shazier, the winning pieces of his post-football team have been his financial advisors, who have helped him navigate his finances and make educated business decisions.

"I feel like I didn't learn as much when I was younger," Shazier added. "Transitioning over, I think it definitely helped me be able to understand every decision that I've been making."

Bryce Young's Father Focuses on Family First, Then Football

Heisman winner and former Alabama quarterback Bryce Young was 2023's No. 1 NFL draft pick, an achievement that represented the culmination of years of hard work for Bryce and his parents. The standout quarterback from University of Alabama was selected by the Carolina Panthers.

His father, Craig Young, joined Todd Burach, leader of City National's sports and family office initiative in Entertainment Banking. The pair discussed preparing children for success and guiding them through the financial decisions that accompany it.


Adapting Through the Phases of Life

For most young athletes, success is a family affair and parents are involved in advising and guiding them.

As parents, it starts with "having a great relationship with the kid and knowing who they are," said Young. “How we navigate things at 21 is different from how we navigated things when he was 5, 10 or 16. As a parent, you have to allow for that growth. And when he's grown and decided who he's going to be, you have to be a resource. I can't allow my needs or my feelings to affect his process."

Putting Family First

Like many fathers of talented athletes, Young started coaching his son early, in an effort to make sure nobody else messed up his promising future. “Over time, it became my journey rather than his, and that wasn't what Bryce needed," Young recalled. “I became more of a coach than a dad. I was harder on him than others on the team, and it started to tear down our relationship."

After his wife asked whether he valued the coach-player relationship or the father-son relationship more, Craig Young took it to heart and changed his ways. “It became about putting the family relationship first, and being OK with whatever the athletic results were," he said.

Mixing Family & Finance

Prioritizing family is a lesson that resonated with the Young family as Bryce entered into numerous name, image, likeness (NIL) deals during college. He now works with sponsorships, advisors and others to manage his brand and his finances as he advances his career as a professional athlete.

“Families want to know they're cared about outside of the transaction," Young said. “For many families, professional sports represents a level of wealth that is brand-new to them. We want to know that the people who are wanting to work with us are in it for the long-term good of our family and are willing to be with us while we figure this all out."

Just as Young focused on his relationship with his son, he now focuses on the relationship side of business.

"For us, it's really important to get to know who we are doing business with," Young commented. "Do they care about us? Are they willing to be with us while we figure this out? I mean, we're talking about entrusting wealth that we've never had."

Burach agreed, adding that this is the same approach he and his team take to heart.

"Ultimately, the reason that we do this and the reason we're in this business is to enhance the lives of our clients on a day-to-day basis and for their future," Burach said.

Catch the rest of the conversations with Ryan Shazier and Craig Young in the videos above.

This article is for general information and education only. It is provided as a courtesy to the clients and friends of City National Bank (City National). City National does not warrant that it is accurate or complete. Opinions expressed and estimates or projections given are those of the authors or persons quoted as of the date of the article with no obligation to update or notify of inaccuracy or change. This article may not be reproduced, distributed or further published by any person without the written consent of City National. Please cite source when quoting.

This video is for general information and education only and is provided as a courtesy to the clients and friends of City National Bank. It is compiled from data and sources believed to be reliable, however City National Bank does not warrant that it is accurate or complete. Opinions expressed and estimates given are those of the speaker as of the date of publish with no obligation to update or notify of inaccuracy or change.

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