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After breaking into the major basketball scene nearly two decades ago, Lebron James is more than a household name. He has built an empire that is worth several million. He didn’t just achieve this feat through his NBA contracts, either. As this article will cover, the superstar has multiple income sources beyond sports, some of which are unique.
Lebron James was born in Akron, Ohio, on December 30th, 1984. His mother, Gloria James, was just 16 at the time of his birth. And his father, Anthony McClelland, has a sizable criminal record, and as such, he wasn’t very much involved in his life. According to Gloria, when Lebron was just an infant, she gave him a miniature basketball and hoop, which he was very immersed in for a few hours. Soon, basketball became a significant part of Lebron’s life. He excelled on the court without stress when he was old enough to represent his elementary school.
As his mother Gloria realized that her son would thrive better in a stable family environment, she allowed him to stay with Frank Walker’s family. Frank Walker, a local youth football coach, started nurturing Lebron’s basketball talent at nine.
He attended St Vincent-St Mary’s high school, where, as a second-year student, he quickly became the youngest individual to secure a spot in the USA Today All USA first team. He earned multiple honors during his junior years, such as the Gatorade National Player of the year. Around that time, people started referring to him as “King James.” James began to appear on SLAM magazine’s and Sports Illustrated’s cover even though he was still a high school student. With all these achievements, even at that age, it was already clear to everyone that James is destined to be a global superstar.
The Cleveland Cavaliers selected Lebron James in the 2003 NBA draft’s overall pick. In his first season, he became the youngest player to attain the 40-point mark in one game. He also became the youngest player to bag the Rookie of the year honor. Asides from playing for the Cavaliers, he has also represented the US Olympic Basketball team and bagged gold and bronze medals in 2008 and 2004, respectively. In the ’12 and ’13 seasons, James and The Miami Heat secured victory in the NBA championship, and he was voted the Most Valuable Player for both series.
Lebron James’ NBA legacy
Lebron James’ impact was immediate, and he bagged the Rookie of the year award in his debut season. As of June 2020, he had16 All-NBA Teams appearances, of which 13 were on the first team. Both are NBA records. Only a few legendary basketball players, such as Michael Jordan, Bill Russell, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Wilt Chamberlian, could match his four MVP awards in five years. James has also won 4 Finals MVP awards and multiple All-Defensive honors from 2009-2014. Although Lebron has never won the Defensive Player of the year award, he has finished as a runner-up twice and has confirmed that it is still one of his primary goals. His teams have ten Finals appearances (tied for third all-time) with four championship wins. Some sports analysts have criticized his final records, while others opined that his performance was excellent, but his team suffered defeat from the superior competition.
Lebron James has consistent inclusions in several rankings of the best basketball players ever regarding career longevity and on-court performances. In late 2019, The Associate’s Press named him the male athlete of the decade of the 2010s. Besides his on-court achievements, multiple analysts have also considered his impact on players’ empowerment via NBA, which emanated from his desire to switch teams during his free agency. For instance, Washington Post’s analyst Ben Golliver submitted that Lebron’s 2010 move to The Heat signifies a decade of player movement. And that it primarily altered the power balance between organizations and stars.
Lebron’s teammates and rivals also testified of his influence. Draymond Green, a rival playing for the Golden State Warriors, reflected that the doors that Lebron James has opened for multiple athletes, especially basketball players, has to be the most significant achievement in sporting history.
Many analysts also discuss James as the greatest basketball player ever compared to Michael Jordan. In an interview with Sports Illustrated, LeBron James acknowledged that Michael Jordan was his motivation, and the zeal to surpass Jordan kept him going.
LeBron James Off the Court
Lebron James has three children with Savannah Brinson, his high school sweetheart. During his family’s stay in Miami, they had a 9 million dollar mansion in Coconut Grove. In late 2015, LeBron acquired a 9,300 sqft mansion in the Brentwood neighborhood, Los Angeles, for $21 million. At that time, it was the most expensive home in the neighborhood. In November 2017, Lebron acquired another mansion in Brentwood for $23 million two years later.
Back in his home city, Ohio, Lebron has one of the Cleveland area’s highest-priced homes. Ohio tax authorities valued the custom-built home at about $9.5 million. The house has a total of 20 rooms in the 30,000 sqft living space. He acquired the property in 2003 when he was 18 and just joined the NBA.
Lebron James Net Worth
Lebron James net worth stands at about $500 million. He earns roughly $40 million yearly in salaries from the NBA and approximately $55 million in endorsements. This implies that his annual income is approximately $100 million.
Lebron James Career Earnings
In his first ten seasons in the NBA, James earned over $125 million in salary alone. He made roughly $326 million from endorsement deals within this same period. That is $451 million from his first professional basketball career. As of today, there are projections that Lebron James will attain the $1 billion career earning mark within a few years.
Lebron James has multiple endorsement deals with various companies, including State Farm, Coca-Cola, Dunkin Donuts, McDonald’s, Baskin Robbins, Nike, Samsung, Microsoft, and more. Aside from endorsing Beats by Dre, LeBron James owns 1% of the company. He has earned royalty payments of roughly $1 million in his years as a spokesman. And when the company was sold to Apple for 3 billion USD, he had about $30 million to his name.
At 18, LeBron James signed his first Nike endorsement deal. The deal was worth about $90 million over seven years, i.e., $12.8 million yearly. Before signing with Nike, he was offered well over a hundred million dollars to sign for Reebok.
Today, Lebron earns over $20 million yearly from Nike in salary and royalty payments for his shoe line.
In late 2015, Lebron signed a lifetime deal with Nike, which may eventually be over a billion dollars. It is the first-lifetime deal ever offered by Nike, and as per multiple reports, it is the largest deal ever by the company.
Lebron James earnings via TV shows and movies
Aside from being a renowned basketball player, Lebron James is also a TV star featured in some movies. Although one can’t be so sure, we can only imagine the mouthwatering deals a professional basketball player must have bagged by featuring on the screens.
Lebron James has been featured in multiple movies, usually as himself. This includes the 2008 legendary movie, More than a Game, 2009’s Story of Spongebob Squarepants as square roots, and 2015 Trainwreck. He also did the voice for Gwangi in the 2018 blockbuster, Smallfoot. He has a new movie coming up, Space Jam 2: A new legacy. It is currently under post-production and will be released later in 2021.
He has also made multiple appearances on the smaller screen. He has appeared in various TV shows such as the LeBron’s, NBA on TNC, get-together, etc.
In 2012, James invested in a pizza startup, Blaze Pizza. Around this period, he was still under a contract with McDonald’s. Five years later, Lebron rejected McDonald’s $15 million contract extension to focus on Blaze Pizza. Today, Lebron owns roughly 20 Blaze pizza franchises, making the company one of the fastest-growing restaurants. According to the company’s latest valuation, his equity stake is worth about 40 million USD.
Lebron James and Maverick Carter, his business partner, co-founded SpringHill Entertainment. It is a production company that has produced multiple television shows, documentaries, and movies.
Although Lebron’s eventual goal is owning an NB team, he had to make do with a soccer team in the meantime. In 2011, Lebron James signed a deal to possess a 2% stake in Liverpool. Since signing the agreement, Liverpool has won the UEFA champions league and the English Premier League and is worth about $2 billion. And as such, Lebron’s stake is now worth over $40 million.