Dermontti Dawson, a former University of Kentucky football standout who has been hailed as one of the greatest centers in National Football League history, filed for bankruptcy this week in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Lexington.
According to documents included in his Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing, Dawson has assets totaling $1,417,891.27 and liabilities totaling $69,659,693.26. Dawson lists his monthly income as $17,972 and his monthly expenses as $19,635.18.
His debts, according to the documents, are primarily business-related. Many of the people and entities on a list of creditors included in Dawson's bankruptcy filing appear to be connected to real estate ventures in which Dawson has been involved.
"Unfortunately, my personal guaranty exposure on the debts of numerous real estate interests has led to the Chapter 7 filing. Today's real estate market and economic conditions, plus the fact that I own non-controlling minority interests in the entities which own the real estate, left me with limited options. I certainly wish things had turned out differently and look forward to continuing my contributions to this community," Dawson said Thursday.
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Some of several recent cases in Jessamine Circuit Court involving businesses in which Dawson has held an interest provide insight into money troubles Dawson and his business partners have been facing.
In April, a judge awarded a $3.4 million judgment for Kentucky Bank against five partners, including Dawson, in a corporation called Miles Road LLC, which developed single-family houses and duplexes on Nicholasville's east side. The bank filed a foreclosure action when Miles Road defaulted on a loan.
Also in April, Jessamine Circuit Court Hunter Daugherty awarded a $1.7 million judgment for Kentucky Bank against D&H Ashgrove #1 LLC, another development company in which Dawson has been a partner. The judge also awarded an $86,672 judgment against D&H in another case.
Two tracts totaling 30 acres on Ashgrove Road in northern Jessamine County, plus three lots in Brannon Crossing owned by D&H, are scheduled to be sold Saturday in a master commissioner's sale.
"I can't talk because I'm too involved with him; he's a friend and a neighbor," said developer Jim Hughes, who has been involved in several ventures with Dawson, including Miles Road and D&H. Dawson and Hughes, who have developed shopping centers across Central Kentucky, have been friends and business partners for several years. The co-developers of the Brannon Crossing Centre in Jessamine County also have worked together in charity-related organizations and events.
Among the assets that Dawson lists in the bankruptcy documents are a Rolex watch, valued at $4,250; his $10 interest in a mixed-breed dog belonging to his daughter; and his half-interest in a golf cart with a total value of $2,650.
Dawson's half-interest in household furniture at his Jessamine County home comes to $16,402.39. The items include a baby grand piano valued at $4,000. His half-interest in artwork that he and his wife own comes to $5,050. The artwork includes Audrey Menefee and Tabora Roy paintings.
Dawson also lists his interest in his mortgaged $1 million home in Nicholasville.
Dawson said he owes $15,990.59 on a Capital One credit card, $8,246.51 on a Meijer MasterCard and $8,405.87 on a Sears MasterCard, and has thousands more in credit card debt.
Dawson, a Lexington native and former football star at Bryan Station High School, played 13 years for the Pittsburgh Steelers, becoming the highest-paid offensive lineman in Steelers history at $4.2 million a year. He was named American Football Conference Lineman of the Year three times and was a seven-time Pro Bowl selection. He retired from pro football in 2001. He was a finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2009 and 2010.
Dawson; his wife, Regina; and their two children, Brandon and Briana, moved back to the Lexington area about 15 years ago. Since then, Dermontti Dawson has been involved in charitable causes, including a foundation to help disadvantaged children, which he established. He also has served on the UK Board of Trustees.
In a 2006 talk with students at Lexington's Leestown Middle School, where he once was a student, Dawson told his young, inquisitive audience that he had televisions in his cars, his house measured 9,000 square feet, he was a millionaire and he drove a Hummer. He also imparted a vision for success that included the strength to resist peer pressure and the courage to ask a lot of questions.
"Don't stand for status quo, try to do over and above what people are asking you for," he said. "That's the only way you're going to make it in this world."