Roscoe Tanner is in trouble for bouncing a check. Again.

Tanner turned himself into authorities in Knox County, Tennessee, on Sunday, May 18th, on charges of felony theft of over $60, 000. Tanner purchased two Toyota Highlanders from Toyota of Knoxville and the check was returned for insufficient funds. He was released on a $2, 000 bond. I understand that his hearing is set for May 27th.

In 2000, Tanner wrote a check to boat dealer Gene Gammon for $35, 595 towards the purchase of a 32 foot yacht and bounced the check. Gammon never saw the boat again. Tanner used it as collateral on a $10, 000 loan and the boat was repossessed.

Tanner spent six week in jail in Germany – where he’d fled to avoid detection – and 17 weeks in jail in Florida because he couldn’t afford bail. He was eventually sentenced to ten years probation for the bad check. He failed to make regular restitution payments that were a requirement of the probation and he was sentenced to two years in prison in 2006.

In 2004, he served five months in jail in New Jersey for failing to make payments on a $500, 000 paternity settlement for a child fathered during a one night stand with an escort. He also owes many years of unpaid child support payments to his ex-wife Charlotte.

Tanner appears to have behavioral problems that repeated stints in jail have not cured. He’s certainly had enough help. Tennis clubs all over the U.S. and Europe have hired him as an instructor. Christian groups have counseled him on ways to change his behavior. His fellow tennis pros have loaned him money. And his father, who died last year, left him a trust fund that provides for his basic needs.

Most people subscribe to one of two theories about Tanner’s repeatedly irresponsible behavior.

1. The spoiled child theory. Tanner was raised in a well-to-do family and given whatever he wanted and and he’s never grown up and learned to take responsibility for his actions.

2. The successful athlete theory. This is the explanation Tanner himself subscribes to. He was very good at forgetting his losses and blocking out any negative distractions and also had boundless confidence. After his tennis career ended, these traits took the form of ignoring bills or legal judgments against him because he was convinced that a solution was just around the corner.

Neither explanation seems adequate at this point and maybe it’s time to admit that Tanner has deeper problems that require professional attention.

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