Wichita State’s Ron Baker moving on from basketball to new career

Kyle DeVault

At 27 and retired from his “dream career” of playing professional basketball, Ron Baker is starting a new chapter of his life — one that’s a little more suit and tie.

After leaving Wichita to go to New York City, the former Wichita State basketball player who grew up in western Kansas, was happy that he was able to fulfill his dream of being an NBA player. 

But he missed being able to see the rolling plains in Kansas opposed to all the skyscrapers in New York.

His schedule in New York had him practicing from about 8 a.m.-1:30 p.m. That put him home at about 2 often feeling lonely. 

“I’m living by myself and it’s like, ‘yeah, it’s cool, I’m in New York City,’ but you can only walk through Central Park so many times,” said Baker during an interview with high school journalism students at Wichita State.

Although the homesickness was hard for Baker, he was able to look past it. 

“When I was 5 years old, it was my dream to be in the NBA. I’ll be honest, I was making really good money. I think I can sacrifice a little homesickness to get paid really, really well to play a kid’s game,” he said.

After Baker played in the NBA, he went to Russia to play one season with the CSKA Moscow. He described it as the lowest point in his basketball career.

“I wasn’t playing well. I missed my family. Homesick. I’m lonely,” Baker said.

While in Russia, Baker realized how good he had it living in Kansas, and America as a whole.

“You go to Turkey, you go to Russia… you can go to prison for speaking your mind about things… even religion,” Baker said. “I mean, there’s countries overseas that are having wars right now over religion. So from a perspective standpoint, it really opened my eyes up to certain things like that.”

Baker decided that it was time that he moved on in life and the physical strain on his body got to be too much for him. He decided to end his basketball career in 2020 and came back to Kansas. 

Baker is glad that he’s back in Wichita. It helps that it’s where one of his favorite restaurants is.

“You know Ziggy’s Pizzas? Holy crap. They don’t got that in Russia, man,” Baker said. 

Baker said he is done with his basketball career, except for now coaching the AfterShocks in The Basketball Tournament, a 64-team, single-elimination tournament with $1 million up for grabs. The AfterShocks won their third game on Tuesday and are on their way to the Elite Eight.

Baker could sit at home and play golf all day, but he plans to start a new chapter in his life. He is starting a new job in the public relations department at Ascension Via Christi and is excited to help others and be a part of the Wichita community.

“I’ve been fortunate that I got to my dream at age 23 and retired at age 27,” Baker said. “A lot of people don’t reach their dream ‘til they’re older. They don’t get to retire until they’re 65. So, for me, my next goal is to impact people.”