LeBron James is known for being a one-of-one in NBA history, but he has become a unicorn off the court as well. Long as successful a businessman as he has been a basketball player, according to Forbes, James is officially the first active NBA player to become a billionaire.
James is one of three all-time NBA players to hit the billionaire mark, along with Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant — both of whom reached the figure following their retirement. While a large portion of James’ wealth came from actually playing ($387M) the majority of his wealth came off the court, through his various endorsement and business deals.
James’ wealth has come in a variety of ways throughout the years. He’s made nearly $400 million in the NBA across his nearly 20-year career. But it’s the investments he’s made with that money over the years that has helped him become the billionaire he is today.
As detailed in the Forbes article, LeBron’s Spring Hill Company is valued at $300 million and accounts for a good chunk of his estimated net worth. His stake of ownership in Fenway Sports Group — a company that owns the Red Sox, Fenway Park, Liverpool, half of Roush Fenway Racing and over three-quarters of New England Sports Network — is valued at just shy of $100 million.
Very interestingly, James is now well clear of Lakers owner Jeanie Buss in net worth. While Forbes values the Lakers franchise at $4.6 billion, Buss’ net worth is significantly lower — relatively speaking — clocking in at somewhere near $500 million. Unlike her father, Jeanie is not a real estate mogul and has far fewer sources of income outside of basketball.
For LeBron, this is a landmark moment for him and fulfills a dream he talked about back in 2014 of wanting to become a billionaire. He’s continuing to pave a way not just as an NBA player as the leader of the player empowerment era and movement but as a businessman off the court, changing the way athletes as a whole live their lives.
His legacy is going to be long-lasting in that regard as athletes will look to his blueprint as they seek to become the next billionaire, just as long-lasting as his on-court legacy. Because of that, he truly is a unicorn.