Newport Beach sports agent Leigh Steinberg, whose life story partially inspired "Jerry Maguire," has filed for bankruptcy, according to an email he sent to the Daily Pilot.
Steinberg, 62, pens a weekly sports column for the Pilot.
He said in his statement that media exposure that harmed his family and chased away clients led to him to seek Chapter 7 protections in federal bankruptcy court. He had been hoping to repay those who had given him loans. Steinberg used to represent a large roster of professional football and baseball players and boxers.
"I delayed taking this step for a number of years because of my moral and legal obligation to people who advanced me funds or performed services in good faith," he wrote. "But the constant and aggressive collection efforts and press initiatives undertaken by creditors have harassed my family and prevented me from working to be able to pay these debts.
"Prospective clients have been pushed away after receiving notice of my debts. It doesn't seem logical to prevent a person who owes you money from working in their chosen field by attempting to ruin his reputation, but that is what has happened. I have lived with this in recent years, and it is time to follow a more constructive path."
Much of the media exposure took place in December when an Orange County court commissioner authorized a bench warrant for him after he missed an appearance in civil court. But there was never a warrant out for his arrest because the party that was suing him for $1.4 million in back rent for a commercial space, the Irvine Co., declined to pay the fees for the warrant to be enforced.
Steinberg said at the time that bloggers, TV stations and other outlets misunderstood the issue and wrote inaccurate stories suggesting that he was on the lam. In fact, he said, his attorney advised him that there was no need for him to be in court that day.
"When a bench warrant for me relating to my debt was authorized last month, the portrait painted in the media was that a 'missed hearing' was the equivalent of my hiding or running from the law," he wrote. "That couldn't be further from the truth. I have been rebuilding a business that will be active in representation, consultation and content supply. We have a website, blog, Facebook and Twitter interactive efforts.
"I mention public appearances and speeches on these sites. I was never unavailable except for the period in early sobriety, which was a necessary aspect of the program. I was a loyal tenant of the Irvine Co. for more than 20 years before expensive rent and these other difficulties forced us to close that office two years ago.
"A hearing on the matter was scheduled and my attorney agreed to change the date and called the night before to tell me not to show up. He failed to reschedule, didn't appear at the hearing that went on without my knowledge, and didn't inform me. I am responsible for all my actions, but I assumed I could rely on counsel."
In his letter to the Pilot, the sports agent also said he is recovering from alcoholism and in the days when he was drinking, he did not always use good judgment.
"I have struggled with alcohol for a number of years," he wrote. "In the past five or six years I began to check out episodically for short periods. My judgment and oversight of my affairs was not consistent and at times impaired. I am responsible for my own addiction — no one forced me to drink — and in revealing my struggle with alcoholism, I am in no way justifying or excusing my circumstance.
"But I discuss it to provide context as well as understanding and inspiration to those who also battle addictive behavior. I surrendered to the reality that I was an alcoholic, and my behavior was impacting family and associates in March 2010. I surrendered to the concept that until I tackled alcoholism, other priorities needed to be put aside."
Steinberg has said that he has continued to remain sober since he gave up drinking nearly two years ago.