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LeBron James Recalls Turning Down A $10 Million Reebok Deal At 18

By January 27th, 2021No Comments
LeBron James Recalls Turning Down A $10 Million Reebok Deal At 18
LeBron James during the Ninth Pangos Dream Classic game against Mater Dei High School at the Pauley Pavilion on the UCLA campus on January 4, 2003. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images.)

When LeBron James entered the NBA in 2003, he would go on to become one of the very last basketball players to be drafted directly from high school. But back then, he was already sparking major attention long before he had even graduated.

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In an interview on his own platform, Uninterrupted, James recalls a time with host Maverick Carter. He tells the story about how former Reebok-CEO, Paul Fireman wrote him a $10 million check to sign with Reebok and turn down future meetings with Nike and Adidas.

James would turn down the deal.

“Being a first-generational money-maker in a household is a scary thing,” says James. “For an 18-year-old, I go from being, sitting in classrooms in May, graduating high school, to being a multi-millionaire a month later.”

But it’s the circumstances in which he turned down the deal that made this moment so powerful.

“Shit, we flew in—I flew in from Akron, Ohio, from the projects. Our rent is like $17 a month, and now I’m looking at a $10 million check.”

“For some odd reason I started thinking…if he’s willing to give me a $10 million check right now, what is it to say that Nike or Adidas is not willing to give me 20 or 30 upfront. Or to say that, maybe the upfront money is not even the biggest thing. Maybe let’s start thinking about the backend.”

“Never put all your eggs in one basket,” said James. He would fly back the very next day to the projects in Akron, Ohio and go right back to school.

In 2015, James would go on to sign a lifetime deal with Nike. Multiple reports cite that the deal, over the course of LeBron’s lifetime, would exceed well over $1 Billion, making it the largest deal ever by Nike. The deal could also potentially make LeBron James the richest athlete of all time.

Maybe LeBron was right about being patient? Watch the video below.

What would you have done if you were in LeBron’s shoes?
LeBron James Recalls Turning Down A $10 Million Reebok Deal At 18
Mike “Orie” Mosley is the managing editor for and a cultural advocate from St. Louis. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Arts, Entertainment & Media Management from Columbia College Chicago and a Masters in Higher Education Administration from LSU. He is also the founder of In his spare time, he’s probably listening to hip hop & neo soul music, hitting up brunch or caught up in deep conversations about Black music. You can follow him on Twitter @mike_orie or on Instagram @mikeorie

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