According to Forbes, LeBron James joins Michael Jordan as the only two NBA players to make it into billionaire territory, but James did something Jordan didn’t. He got it while still in the league.
Arguably the best basketball player in the world, James amassed his wealth through diversification: endorsement deals with Nike Inc NKE, Coca-Cola Co KO, Walmart Inc WMT, and others, coupled with his 2% stake in the Liverpool F.C. (soccer club), his investment in Blaze Pizza (he owns 19 separate locations), and of course his massive NBA salary.
Though by no means is James stingy when it comes to giving back: his LeBron James Family Foundation has raised and given a whopping $100 million to at least seven foundations, supporting at least 12 causes.
Some of those include granting four-year scholarships to students at the college in his hometown, the ONExONE organization that supports students in struggling school districts, and the $20 million he pledged to build the “I Promise School” in Akron, Ohio, to improve educational institutions where he grew up.
While “King James’” contributions to society may seem like a tough thing to match, these other athletic superstars make great company.
2. Cristiano Ronaldo
In 2015, Ronaldo was named the most charitable athlete by the non-profit organization DoSomething.org after his $8 million donation to the Nepal earthquake relief fund and was later recognized for his ambassadorship with a trio of charities: Save the Children, UNICEF and World Vision.
This soccer player has supported 11 causes across at least five charities.
3. Serena Williams
Williams, widely regarded as the best female tennis player of all time, has been active with philanthropic work since 2006 when she visited Ghana with UNICEF to assist a health program. Since then, she's donated to the Violence Prevention Foundation, Yetunde Price Resource Center, Champs Seed Foundation, UNLEASHED and the Elton John AIDS Foundation.
Williams established her own philanthropic organization, Serena Williams Fund, emphasizing racial, gender and disability equality.
4. Colin Kaepernick
Following his acrimonious breakup from the NFL, the former quarterback and current free agent engaged in his charitable mission. He started with Black Lives Matter and later pledged to donate $1 million to organizations that assist people in oppressed communities.
He has supported dozens of causes across at least 41 charities.
5. Carlos Beltrán
After Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico in 2017, the retired sweet-swinging MLB outfielder gave $1 million of his own money to a charity fundraiser that raised $1.5 million for relief efforts.
Beltrán presently operates two foundations, the Carlos Beltrán Foundation and the Carlos Beltrán Baseball Academy, which aim to influence and mold young people into ballplayers, educated young adults, or both.
Photo: LeBron James by DFree via Shutterstock
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