LeBron James is an 18-time NBA All-Star, four-time NBA champion, four-time NBA MVP, and a two-time Olympic gold medallist. Now, the King is also a billionaire.
Despite a disappointing campaign with the Lakers in 2021-22, which means he must watch the NBA Finals from the side lines after missing the playoffs, James has achieved something no NBA star has ever done. According to Forbes , he has officially become a billionaire while still operating as an active player.
He is the first active NBA player to make the billionaires’ list, as Michael Jordan - the only other basketball billionaire - joined the ranks in 2014, nine years after the Chicago Bulls legend retired. James has surpassed the billion mark for his net worth after a year of earnings totalling $121.2 million.
While Jordan achieved his wealth largely through his iconic Air Jordan brand and his purchase of the Charlotte Hornets NBA franchise, James has maximised his business ventures to make $1.2 billion in pre-tax earnings. He revealed his plans to execute such a lucrative off-court career back in 2014, when he told GQ he wanted to be a billionaire - and he has now achieved the hefty objective eight years later.
Across his illustrious career, James has secured more than $385 million in salary from the Cleveland Cavaliers, Miami Heat and Los Angeles Lakers as the NBA’s highest-paid active player. Even away from the sport, James has earned over $900 million in income stemming from other business ventures and lucrative endorsements due to his stature and popularity with fans worldwide.
This path, from teenage prodigy to billionaire active athlete, is particularly impressive given where the King hails from. Born to a 16-year-old single mother in Akron, Ohio, James reportedly moved a dozen times in three years but his basketball talent shone through as he became the most anticipated high school prospect of all time, which came with a crushing weight of expectation.
Aged 18 in 2003, James turned down offers from Reebok and Adidas to sign a deal with Nike and after more than a decade of success, he inked a lifetime agreement with the brand to pay him tens of millions on an annual basis. Alongside deals with the likes of AT&T, PepsiCo and Walmart, the 37-year-old was the second-highest earning athlete in the world in 2021.