Jonah Lomu wasn't just another player. But the state of his finances at the time of his tragic, premature death is a sports story as common as a cold winter's day.
The almost immediate attempt by his family to set up a give-a-little account following his death said a lot. Something wasn't right. The giant winger who was actually bigger than the game, wasn't bigger than life's pecuniary pitfalls.
What we don't fully know is what his total earnings were, and we'll never know what they could have been. He appeared as a rugby colossus just as rugby union was turning openly professional, but in a sport in which its finest players were still somewhat shackled by the dictates of national administrations and, in New Zealand, the restricted horizons of a smaller nation.
Super skilfully managed, and if he had wanted to take his life in a certain way, Jonah would have made squillions as sure as Mike Catt will forever be remembered for THAT missed tackle on the big man.
Yet no matter what he earned, Jonah could still have lost it all. Vast earnings are one thing, knowing how to look after them is another.
Professional sport is littered with financial collapses. There are the well-known cases, such as ring tyrant Mike Tyson who earned well over $500m and ended up with debts of $40m. But a lot of rank and file professional sports people have been knocked out financially. The more you have the more you have to lose, and the more people you will find willing to help you lose it.
A landmark Sports Illustrated piece reckoned that 78 per cent of NFL football players were bankrupt or in the gun within two years of retiring, and SI estimated that a similar financial fate hit 60 per cent of NBA basketballers within five years of leaving the court.
The reasons, the stories, are as varied as the personalities of the sports stars who crashed. Jack Clark, a baseballer, had 18 cars. Evander Holyfield, the world heavyweight champ, had 11 kids.
For the moment, Lomu's life will be pored over in dollar terms. Life is a journey, and at the time of his passing, his finances were at a low ebb. He led an extraordinary life, and overcame enormous odds, especially on the health front.
Down the track, a better perspective will kick back in, and the money situation will fade into its proper place. He is a man whose life and deeds should not, will not, be measured in dollars-and-cents terms.
How you can help
DONATE: Those wanting to donate to the trust set up for Jonah Lomu's sons can do so through the official jonahlomulegacy.com website or through the lomulegacy.com supporting website, powered by NZME's GrabOne. NZME is the parent company of the NZ Herald and NewstalkZB. Donations can also be made through any branch of the ASB Bank or by online banking to the Jonah Lomu Legacy Trust, account number 12-3647-0022925-00.