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LeBron James becomes first active NBA player billionaire—the money lesson he learned as a kid


LeBron James has officially become a billionaire, according to Forbes. This makes James the first active NBA player to reach the milestone, and the second NBA player to reach billionaire status, joining retired basketball star Michael Jordan.

James, a small forward for the Los Angeles Lakers, is the NBA’s highest-paid player, earning $121 million dollars last year on and off-court. He landed the number two spot on Forbes’ 10 Highest-Paid Athletes of 2022 list, following Lionel Messi, who snagged the number one spot. 

Overall, James has made $387 million from the Cleveland Cavaliers, Miami Heat, and Los Angeles Lakers, and raked in another $900 million from other ventures and endorsements, such as a lifetime Nike sponsorship, Blaze pizza franchises, and owning a video production company, bringing his pre-tax earnings to over $1.2 billion.

James, an Ohio native, had a difficult childhood, as his young mother struggled to make ends meet. With the small amount of money he did have, James made sure to always put some aside, thanks to a money lesson from his uncles.

“My uncles always taught me — they taught me how to have a savings account,” James said in a podcast on his web platform, UNINTERRUPTED. “They’d give me a dollar and they’d be like, ‘Listen, nephew, go spend 35 cents of it and keep the other 65.’ Or, if they gave me two dollars, they’d be like, ‘Go ahead and spend a dollar of it, but stash the other dollar.'”

With a natural talent for basketball, James was recruited by St. Vincent-St. Mary High School in 1999, where he scored over 2,500 points during his 4 years on the team.

During the 2003 NBA Draft, James was selected number 1 overall by the Cleveland Cavaliers. His NBA debut was described as “one of the most impressive in league history,” as he scored 25 points, 6 rebounds, and 9 assists. James would go on to become a four-time NBA MVP, win 4 championships, and obtain 3 Olympic medals.

The athlete’s foundation, the Lebron James Family Foundation, also opened the I PROMISE School, a public school in Akron, Ohio, in 2018. The school has pledged to help students, who are at risk of “falling through the cracks” succeed academically.

In 2021, James expressed his hopes to one day own an NBA franchise, after becoming part-owner of the Boston Red Sox. 

“I got so much to give to the game. I know what it takes to win at this level. I know talent,” James told interviewers. “I also know how to run a business as well. And so, that is my goal. My goal is to own an NBA franchise, and it will be sooner than later.”

According to James, he’s got a lot of life left in him, and he doesn’t plan on slowing down any time soon. He’s eligible for a two-year $97 million contract extension from the Lakers and he hopes to play with his son, LeBron “Bronny” James Jr., in the near future.

“I can go on for a minute, to be honest,” he tweeted. “It’s really up to me and my mental staying sharp. I’m still psycho driven!”

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