They understand they should protect their finances, respect their bodies, avoid contact with groupies and make prudent decisions, especially when dealing with the public.
They know they must avoid arrest, or putting themselves in a position that leads to taking a mug shot.
Navigating celebrity might be the trickiest part of being a star athlete, and Jason Kidd and Marshawn Lynch -- Oakland's own and perhaps the most visible active professional athletes bred in the East Bay -- have become all too familiar with the challenges.
They've been arrested or investigated multiple times. They've hurt or endangered others. They have punched holes in their images.
And they've responded by admitting guilt, acknowledging the mistakes and offering expressions of sorrow and regret -- in hopes of patching those holes.
So it's doubly disappointing to see Kidd, a New York Knicks guard, and Lynch, a Seattle Seahawks running back, land in squad cars over the same weekend. They were arrested in separate states, on different sides of the country, yet found precisely the same predicament.
Each had left a charity event only to be arrested on suspicion of driving while intoxicated, Kidd in a leafy New York suburb and Lynch in Emeryville. Each will spend the coming months wondering why, oh why, he did this to himself.
Before posing for fresh mug shots, both had worked to project a maturity that seemed beyond such insanity.
But the dark side of Kidd's past has doubled back, after 11 years. There was the 2001 arrest for domestic violence, when Jason admitting hitting his then-wife and pleaded guilty. There was, seven years earlier, the incident on I-80 in Emeryville in which Kidd later admitted leaving the scene after the car he was driving sideswiped another.
He was 21 at the time.
He's almost 40 now.
And he has been caught again. On the Web are several photos of Kidd partying at a benefit for filmmaker George Lucas. One particularly disturbing picture shows Kidd, his profile obscured, allegedly sloppy drunk, being physically assisted. Witnesses said Jason staggered to his Cadillac Escalade, got behind the wheel and drove away.
Shortly thereafter, his car was spotted a few yards off the road, near a fallen telephone pole and leveled shrubbery. Cops arrived, saw the damage, found Kidd alone in the car, smelled alcohol and hauled him to jail.
One day before Kidd's arrest, Lynch was stopped by the California Highway Patrol at 67th and Shellmound off Interstate 80 in the wee hours Saturday morning. He was taken to the North County Jail in Oakland, where he was cited and released.
We've watched Lynch develop from a spectacular running back at Oakland Tech to a first-round draft pick out of Cal and into a five-year NFL career. Only three months ago, he signed a four-year contract worth $31 million ($18 mil guaranteed) with the Seahawks, where he arrived in 2010 for a fresh start.
It all seemed to be going well, better than it had in Buffalo. As a Bill, Lynch had pleaded guilty in 2009 to a misdemeanor gun charge in Los Angeles in an incident that occurred a year after he pleaded guilty and admitted to another, more serious incident in downtown Buffalo.
Lynch in that instance hit a pedestrian with his Porsche SUV and left the scene. The pedestrian required hospitalization and later filed a civil suit against Lynch.
Since arriving in Seattle, Lynch and his aides have embarked on a campaign to recast Marshawn's image. They had achieved a measure of success, which coincided with Lynch, 26, having his best season in 2011.
And now it's back into the Image Rehab shop, which Kidd and Lynch will enter for repairs before serving up another round of solemn contrition.
They know that each time something punches a hole in their image, it gets harder to repair. These Image Rehab stints always are indefinite, and credibility is that much harder to rebuild afterward.
Image Rehab is effective only if it's successful. Only if it's genuine.
But if Image Rehab becomes a habit, it does not work. It can't. It becomes a joke. And you become Pacman Jones or J.R. Rider or Charlie Sheen.
Kidd and Lynch want to do good deeds, particularly to help those coping with the streets of Oakland and the Bay Area. They have helped youngsters. Both served charitable causes in the hours before their arrests.
But the results, two more arrests, hurt everybody. They hurt Kidd and Lynch and those who care about them.
Kidd and Lynch must learn to accept something of which their many fans are more acutely aware: The "new you" is new only when it's true.