Colorado defensive back Shilo Sanders, son of head coach Deion Sanders, is $11 million in debt and filed for bankruptcy in October 2023, according to USA Today.  The petition for relief -- which was filed under Chapter 7 in Colorado's Bankruptcy Code -- states Sanders is on the hook for $11.3 million stemming from a March 2022 civil trial in Texas. The initial filing noted Sanders owns $478,000 in assets, though an amendment in December brought that number down to $320,000. 

The filing obtained by USA Today states that Sanders brought in a gross income of $193,713 during the 2023 fiscal year. That number is actually down from the $216,950 he netted while playing at Jackson State in 2022. A large portion of his income can be attributed to name, image and likeness deals -- Sanders reported a Mercedes valued at almost $76,000 among his assets -- but it's a far cry from some of the NIL projections that external metrics have placed on the Colorado star.

Here's a look at the lengthy legal battle that brought Sanders to this point and what his bankruptcy filing could mean.  

Legal troubles stem from a high school incident

John Darjean, a former security guard at Triple A Academy in Dallas, Texas, filed a lawsuit against Sanders and his family in June 2016. The suit alleges that in 2015, Sanders -- who was 15 at the time -- assaulted Darjean after Sanders refused Darjean's request to turn over his cellphone. 

Court documents obtained by Westword claim Sanders "slammed his elbow into Darjean's chest and continued to hit Darjean after he fell. Darjean was taken to the hospital in an ambulance."

Darjean alleges he "sustained severe and permanent injuries, including a broken neck, damage to his cervical spine, permanent neurological injuries and irreversible incontinence."  Sanders' parents were included in the suit but eventually dropped from it after winning a summary judgment against Darjean in January 2019, according to USA Today. 

In 2020, Sanders' attorneys asked to withdraw from the case when it became clear their client, who was a redshirt freshman at South Carolina, could no longer financially afford their services. Trial dates were constantly delayed until 2022 when the court decided to convene and hear Darjene's case. 

Sanders misses crucial date 

According to USA Today, the Dallas County-based court attached to Sanders' trial noted that it had "no updated mailing address for defendant Shilo Sanders." It attempted to send notice to Sanders in February 2022 of a trial date set for March, though it used an address listed in South Carolina, where he hadn't resided on a permanent basis since 2020. 

Sanders did not attend the trial since he didn't receive notice, and no attorneys were present to represent him. As a result, the court entered a default judgment in March 2022 in favor of Darjean ordering Sanders to pay $11.89 million. 

Why did Sanders file for bankruptcy? 

As a "petition for relief" might suggest, Sanders filed for bankruptcy in an attempt to get his debt either partially or entirely discharged. In addition, Sanders was granted a stay on his payments until Colorado's bankruptcy court can enter a final decision. 

Chapter 7 of Colorado's Bankruptcy Code states that, in exchange for cooperation, full disclosure and turnover of "non-exempt assets," "a person is entitled to receive a discharge and eliminate most debts."  Non-exempt assets include jewelry, property that is not a filer's primary home or vehicles with equity, among various other possessions and property the court may deem worthy. 

Sanders' attorney states that Sanders has been fully compliant with any requirements in the bankruptcy filing thus far. 

"(Sanders) has taken no action to hide, transfer, destroy, or mutilate assets, either on a pre- or post-Petition Date basis, and even went so far as to voluntarily turnover over $210,000 to the (bankruptcy) Trustee without waiting for further order of the Bankruptcy Court, or even a stipulation for turnover." Sanders' attorney said in a court filing obtained by USA Today