Since beginning his NBA career as an 18-year-old phenom in 2003, James has been the face of brands including Nike and State Farm. As he racked up stats (he’s a 17-time NBA All-Star) and championships (four to date, with three teams), he raked in more endorsement deals.
What sets James apart as a marketer now, nearly two decades into his career, is how he works across a breadth of categories without the work feeling forced or out of place. Plus, he continues to expand his philanthropic efforts through the LeBron James Family Foundation, whose work in Akron, Ohio, includes the I Promise school and, new this year, housing for families in need. Other pursuits include the athlete empowerment brand Uninterrupted.
In 2021, James collaborated with brands including Calm, the meditation app; the upcoming electric Hummer; Lobos 1707; Mtn Dew Rise Energy (which is dropping Rise from its name); Tonal, the high-end wall-mounted gym; and Walmart. The deal with Walmart includes the chain providing products for the I Promise school.
And James continued to expand his star power in other ways. “Space Jam: A New Legacy” snagged $162.8 million at the box office despite far-from-stellar reviews and a simultaneous at-home release on HBO Max. Even Entertainment Weekly’s Mary Sollosi, who gave the movie a D+, recognized James' appeal, writing: “There are no other living American athletes who could really get away with ‘Space Jam: A New Legacy’ (a lack for which we should all be grateful), and James basically does. The man’s stature, already impressive, grows a little bit more when he gets to stand atop this enormous chunk of movie, now piled up with his many other achievements.”