LeBron James–18-time NBA all-star, 4-time NBA champion, 2-time Olympic gold medalist–has hit yet another milestone, this time doing something no other NBA player has ever done.
After another monster year of earnings–totaling $121.2 million last year–Forbes estimates that James has officially become a billionaire, while still playing hoops.
The 37-year-old superstar has a net worth of $1 billion, by Forbes’ count. James, who’s missing the playoffs for just the fourth time in 19 seasons, is the first active NBA player to make the billionaires list.
Michael Jordan, the only other basketball billionaire, didn’t hit ten figures until 2014, more than a decade after he retired, thanks to a well-timed investment in the Charlotte Hornets basketball team.
“It’s my biggest milestone,” James told GQ in a prophetic 2014 interview. “Obviously. I want to maximize my business. And if I happen to get it, if I happen to be a billion-dollar athlete, ho. Hip hip hooray! Oh, my God, I’m gonna be excited.”Born to a struggling,
16-year-old single mother in Akron, Ohio, James lived with an assortment of family members, friends, neighbors and his peewee football coach–moving a dozen times in three years–before becoming the most hyped high school basketball prospect of all time.
He inked his first deal with Nike in 2003, at age 18, famously rejecting offers from Reebok and Adidas in favor of what he saw as the better long-term partner. Good call.
After more than a decade of success, he struck a lifetime agreement with Nike in late 2015 that pays him tens of millions annually. Last year, thanks to Nike, plus deals with brands like AT&T, PepsiCo and Walmart, he was the second-highest-earning athlete in the world.