Why a professional baseball player who scored a $2 million signing bonus lives in a van during the off-season

Daniel norris vanVICE Sports/YouTubeWhen Daniel Norris got his signing bonus, he bought his dream ride: a mustard-yellow Volkswagen camper.

After being drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in 2011, Daniel Norris’ bank account balance had more zeroes tacked on the end than he’d ever seen.

The 18-year-old, straight out of high school, had scored a $2 million signing bonus, making him a millionaire overnight.

Yet, Norris — who has always lived by his own code — refused to change his lifestyle simply because of a raise.

In fact, one of the first things he bought was a a $10,000 Volkswagen camper … which he converted into a tiny house and lives and travels in during the off-season.

Why camp out in a van and live off a scant $800 a month, despite the number of zeroes tacked on his bank account balance?

His childhood hints at the answer. He was raised in Johnson City, Tennessee and taught to embrace the outdoors and live simply. “I grew up with a simple lifestyle, and I knew going into professional baseball that would be tested,” he told GrindTV. “In my mind there’s no need for luxury, or at least society’s sense of the word.”

Daniel norrisMitchell Layton/GettyDaniel Norris now pitches for the Detroit Tigers.

Norris is the first to admit that he’s “more comfortable being kind of poor.” In fact, he only spends about $800 a month and directs the rest of his money into conservative investments. “Just because money is there doesn’t mean you have to have nicer things than you used to have,” he told ESPN.

Additionally, hitting the road in Shaggy keeps him busy once baseball is over for the year. “If there’s no baseball, I need to keep myself occupied or I’ll go crazy,” he wrote in The Players’ Tribune. “It keeps me grounded and allows me to recharge.”

As for whether the van life takes away from focusing on baseball, Norris doesn’t think so. “It might be a little unconventional, but that’s the only way I’m going to come back to spring training and have a great season,” he wrote. “I need to start out happy and balanced. With things in perspective.”

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