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Inspiration for 'Jerry Maguire' Files for Bankruptcy

Christopher Blumenshine/Getty Images for Mercedes Benz(SANTA ANA, Calif.) -- Sports agent Leigh Steinberg, the inspiration for the "show me the money" character in the movie Jerry Maguire, filed for bankruptcy protection for debt ranging from $1 million to $5 million.

Steinberg, who represented NFL stars like Troy Aikman, Steve Young and Ben Roethlisberger, cited his children's health problems, a "forbidden" business transaction from one of his employees, and a former struggle with alcoholism as catalysts for the financial problems.

His attorney, Alessandro Assanti, said Steinberg's two children had suffered "serious medical issues," including the eye disease retinitis pigmentosa, which can cause near-blindness. That and other problems caused Steinberg to turn to alcohol, Assanti added, though he has been sober since 2010.

Steinberg's attorneys filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection late Wednesday in Santa Ana, Calif.

He has represented at least six of the NFL's No. 1 draft picks since 1989, according to The New York Times.

Stephen Cannella, a Sports Illustrated senior editor, said in many ways Steinberg created the role of the modern sports agent -- not just in football but in every sport. He had the ability to negotiate big-money contracts and he was the first agent to develop a superagent persona.

"If you were a top-tier player, especially a quarterback, then there was little debate over who you wanted your agent to be," Cannella wrote in an email. "Having him as representation almost became a status symbol for players coming out of college, a way of announcing yourself as a start before you had even signed a contract."

He helped negotiate Aikman's contract in 1993 for $50 million over eight years, the biggest contract in NFL history at the time, according to USA Today, when he was a quarterback with the Dallas Cowboys. Aikman's signing bonus of $11 million was also the biggest in NFL history at that time. His $6.25 million package average passed Young's $5.35 million average when he was a quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers.

Despite getting a cut of some of the largest deals in sports history, somehow the money was squandered away. Steinberg listed his only asset as $475,000 in stock in the bankruptcy filing.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio 

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