Former Raven Details Recovery from Addiction and Bankruptcy

by: Mark F. Gray Special to the AFRO
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Marques Ogden’s transition from the NFL to the business world was difficult. (Courtesy photo)

Former Baltimore Ravens defensive end Marques Ogden made a living coming from the blind side to blitz quarterbacks. However, after a five year NFL career and successful transition into business, Ogden ultimately took a life changing business hit that cost him everything he worked for.

“It wasn’t about a lavish lifestyle. I lived in a townhouse and bought pre-owned vehicles,” said Ogden.  “It’s important for people to understand that bad things happen in life.”

Ogden, whose brother Johnathan was part of the 2001 Ravens Super Bowl championship, chronicles his recovery from addiction and bankruptcy in his new book “Sleepless Nights: The NFL A Business and Family.”

This best selling story has been critically acclaimed from the gridiron to Wall Street and is a blueprint for avoiding financial catastrophe through failed business ventures.

Marques was not the typical pro athlete who lived in the moment.  With his B.S. degree in business from Howard University he founded Kayden Premiere Enterprises before retiring. The construction company specialized in all aspects of site management from demolition to utilities.  It was recognized as one of Baltimore’s Shining Star minority businesses.

Things changed dramatically, however, when the company embarked on a $4 million project for Johns Hopkins Hospital’s DHNH health laboratory. The project was disrupted because the company was unable to adequately dry the soil around the construction site. The cruel business reality that was magnified when Johns Hopkins denied a change order request meaning it was an expense that Kayden Enterprises would have to absorb.

The book recalls how the absence of diligent research when heading into that expanding business opportunity left him bankrupt. Ogden takes full responsibility for his lapse of attention to detail which became a life changing multimillion dollar nightmare and also put “an unreal” stress level on his family.  Marques says his wife Bonnie, who he met on a dating website, “weathered the storm”.

His spiral downward intensified when his father Shirrell passed away at 57 following complications from heart surgery in 2006. Shirrell provided primary custody for his two sons after divorcing their mother. After his father’s death and filing bankruptcy he found refuge in alcohol.

“I lost $2 million in 90 days,” said Ogden. “Everything caught up with me at one time.  I cashed in stocks, took out a first and second mortgage on my home and even used my father’s inheritance to try and stay afloat.”

“It was a difficult time in the Ogden household when this transpired”.

He admits that some of the attributes that push athletes to an elite level can be their demise in business.  Quitting is a violation of the unwritten code of honor players live by on the field which is a driving force in their success. Ogden also believes that pride convinces some players to remain in bad deals too long figuring they can weather the storm.

“Pride is the absolute enemy of most athletes,” said Ogden. “If you continue to throw money at a bad situation it won’t end up well. Revenue means nothing. It’s black [profits] versus red [losses]”.

Ogden credits his family and the National Football League Players Association for helping to rebound. He received a $14,000 NFLPA Gene Upshaw Trust Fund Assistance Grant which covered his expenses for four months in 2013 and allowed him to begin rebuilding his life.

Marques established Ogden Elite Sports, which focuses on health, wellness, and public speaking.  He is now sharing his message with Fortune 500 companies, colleges and universities, the NFLPA, and the Boys and Girls Clubs of America. The unprecedented success of his book has given him a platform to empower those facing challenges from life’s critical setbacks.

“Anyone can make a bad business decision,” said Ogden.  “It’s my responsibility to educate people on what to do and not to do.”

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