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From an athlete’s perspective, here are the 5 agent types to look for

The process of finding the right agent for your situation can be tricky and extremely difficult. Personally, I went through four different agents during my two-year pro playing career.

I’ve seen some athletes go “through it” way more than that though. I have also seen athletes fire an agent after just a week or less. If you take a look around the sports world as a whole, this isn’t something out of the ordinary.

Throughout the past few weeks, I’ve had a few conversations with a friend of mine who was a former Division-I basketball player. He expressed the numerous issues that athletes have finding qualified agents who can represent them and how antiquated this process is once athletes graduate college.

His ultimate goal is to completely revolutionize the way that athletes can go about this, starting with basketball.

For most athletes, who won’t play in any of the four major leagues in America, there’s hardly any resources or knowledge they can turn to in order to figure out how to go about this.

So, like me, they blindly ask around and hope they can find an agent who can help them achieve their dreams at the next level.

Looking ahead, I think the way that athlete’s find the most suitable agent for them will change, but in the meantime here are five key characteristics that every athlete should look for when trying to find the right agent:

1. The hard-working agent

I mean if you don’t have an agent who is willing to work hard for you, then getting a job playing somewhere is completely out of the question.

This is a very cutthroat industry so the first thing that has to come into play is an agent’s ability to out will the competition. They have to be willing to work longer, make more calls, send more emails and do whatever it takes to put you in a position to get a job.

My very first agent didn’t work as hard as I thought he should have. Being an agent was his part-time gig so it wasn’t life or death for him to get me a job playing overseas. For him, it was a hobby. Not an obligation.

Because of this, I fired him after about three months. Don’t do what I did and sign with an agent that puts you as a second priority. Your agent has to be willing to work as hard as you do in your sport.

Probably even harder.

2. The honest trustee

Is your agent real with you about where they see you playing?

Are they being upfront with the options on the table?

Can you truly trust them?

While you might not know the answers to these questions off the top of your head, it won’t take you long to see the deceitfulness if there is any there.

I’ve heard plenty of stories when an agent had promised an athlete they would have a spot on a particular roster, but shortly afterward the athlete would find out on their own that the spot had been filled already.

I’ve seen other agents give athletes the runaround for weeks and in some cases, months.

Most agents I’ve come across have great intentions. But some try to do anything to keep an athlete on their roster because it cast a wider net for them to make money.

Try not to approach the player-agent relationship with cynism, but pay attention to signs and red flags. If you sense any dishonesty – it’s time to walk away.

3. The clean negotiator

When doing your research or prospecting agents in your sport, make sure you cover all your bases. This includes their history and past dealings.

Most agents have some sort of track record that you can find online. If not, ask around. Set up calls. Talk to other athletes to see if they’ve heard of them.

Also, reach out to coaches to see what they think or know. The truth is that the sports world is very small. If someone you know hasn’t heard of an agent before, they could be new to the game or that might be a bad sign.

There’s nothing wrong with giving a new agent a chance to show what they got, but working with an agent that has a bad history and reputation can be detrimental for your career long-term.

Just make sure you practice due diligence and get all the information you need before you sign the dotted line.

4.  The agent you can lean on

In my opinion, one of the greatest things about having an agent is your ability to call on someone whenever you need them. Being an agent is about being there for your clients 100% of the time.

Does your agent do this for you? Can you call your agent at all hours of the night?

Not that you should do this, but it’s good to know that you can.

Having an agent that’s readily accessible and able to communicate with you quickly, can make a huge difference in your career. When I was playing in Japan during my second season overseas, I got into a contractual dispute with the team I was playing for.

Luckily I was able to call my agent in Toronto right away even though it was a 14 hour time difference. He still answered and got the contract situation figured out.

You always want an agent who’s going to be there for you through thick and thin, because those type of moments will undoubtedly happen at some point in your career.

5.  Mr. Show Me The Money

Last but not least, your agent has to have the utmost belief in your ability to be successful on and off the playing field.

When you enter an agreement with an agent, it should automatically be more than just a business relationship. You’re putting belief in them that they can get the job done. They’re putting belief in your game and ability to be an outstanding role model off the playing field.

That type of connection in the sports world is powerful. It’s why agents like Rich Paul are so revered and respected by his players.

At the end of the day, an agent is supposed to have a foundational belief in you as an individual and should want to see you succeed in all facets of life.

And you should have the same feelings toward them.

Final Thoughts

Trust me when I say this, finding an agent is challenging, even for the most talented athletes.

Things will change throughout your athletic career and you might be faced with situations that require you walk away from relationships and agreements.

Understand that this is ok.

The best thing you can do is to not burn those bridges or make yourself look bad. If you didn’t have the best experience with an agent, but they tried their best to live up to these five characteristics, don’t speak behind their back.

Sometimes things won’t go as planned in your career, but you can always do the right thing and walk away from a relationship with grace and class.

The sports world can be whirlwind for any athlete to navigate, but don’t just go through it. Go through it. Learn what you need to learn. And more than anything else, be in complete control of your career.

When it’s all said and done, be sure that you can say you took full accountability for your career and made the best out of it that you could.

How building confidence in sports can carry over into business and life

This comes as a surprise to a lot of people when I say this, but throughout high school and most of my college days, while I was playing basketball I really didn’t have a lot of confidence in my game.

I didn’t have faith in my ability as an athlete.

Instead, I constantly fed into the negative thoughts that I would tell myself and when other people told me I wasn’t able or good enough to do certain things in basketball, sometimes I believed them.

I would take every word they said about me and believe it was fact. Without any objection – I’d just accept it.

Deep down, I always knew that I was worthy of success somehow, but my confidence really lacked when it came to certain things I did, no matter how hard I thought I worked to get better at them.

For example, I would practice shooting three-pointers in high school almost every single day but when it came down to actually shooting them in the game, I never even tried to shoot them because I not only told myself that I wasn’t good enough to shoot them, but I also had coaches who forced me to second guess myself during games.

And even though I wasn’t a bad shooter by any stretch of the imagination, I just hadn’t practiced them enough to have an unwavering belief in my ability to make them regardless of what anyone else had to say about it.

I hadn’t done it enough to truly believe that I was good enough to shoot them in the game; therefore, I wasn’t able to reach my fullest potential as a player in high school.

The honest truth is that I didn’t get full confidence in my game until my senior year in college and by that time it was almost too late.

It was almost too late for me to accomplish my dream in basketball and I felt I had wasted many years as an athlete, but it wasn’t too late for other things that I wanted to do in my life.

I became a professional athlete purely because I started to believe that I could play at any level and with anyone in the world.

Once I knew this and I knew how to gain more confidence in basketball, I was able to gain more confidence in anything else that I wanted to do going forward.

How Exactly I Developed Confidence In Basketball

When I graduated and went on to play professionally overseas, I realized that confidence is actually relatively easy to obtain once you understand where it stems from. Confidence is all about three things to me and three things only.
In my mind, I broke it down into:

Setting clear, measurable objectives or goals.

Hard work and repetition.

Consistent and positive affirmations.

When I started to gain more confidence in my ability to shoot three’s my senior year of college, I noticed it was because I put the work in every day to become a better shooter and consistently reassured myself that I was good enough to make them in the game.

I knew it was my last year in college and the last chance I had to make a push to play professional ball. I had to ball out that season or playing pro was going to be a long shot.

While I was in college, I played the guard position and was expected to be a big scorer on the team that year. This means the coach expected me to shoot three’s. A lot of them. My only option was to gain the confidence to not only shoot them but also to make them in the game. So I followed the three rules. 1.) Set a goal every day. 2.) Work extremely hard. 3.) Be consistently positive.

So before class, I’d wake up at 7:30 am with a goal of getting to the gym by 8:00 am to make 200 threes. Make, not take.

Even though I’d be late for class some days, I did this almost every day in the preseason, and often times during the season.

And oh yeah… While I was shooting, I would literally tell myself out loud that I was a good shooter. I mean with every shot I took, whether I made it or missed it, I reiterated, “Next one is going in,” or “They can’t guard me, keep shooting,” or “You got this, keep knocking them down.”

It was a positive reassurance shot after shot. There was no hanging my head on misses. No defeated looks. Just hard work and maintaining that optimistic point of view.

On top of all this, it really helped that my college coach had complete trust in me as a player, which also allowed me to perform in ways that I never had before.

When the season rolled around I had drastically improved as a shooter. In our second game against UCLA, I finished with 20 points and hit 5 threes.

I had never hit that many three’s in a game throughout my entire high school and college career up until that point. That was all pure confidence.

How To Use This Formula In Business & In Life

Without self-belief and confidence, nothing is possible.

You can have all of the talents in the world. You can have all of the knowledge in the world. You can be the absolute best at what you do.

But if you don’t know how to display, perform or communicate any of this effectively and confidently, you might as well not have any of it.

People can sense when you don’t have confidence in something. They can tell when you’re uneasy or unprepared. They can see when you aren’t ready to step up to the moment. And what that does — depending on what the situation is — is it detracts people from you. It prevents them from giving you other opportunities or chances. It changes their perception of you.

Confidence is so important and knowing what I know now, I would have doubled down on implementing this formula in my life.

But it’s not too late for you to start building yours. Even if you think you already have enough confidence – you can always be more confident. Plus, it’s like a muscle, you have to keep building it in different areas of your life for it to stay strong.

This means constantly setting goals and measuring the results, which builds confidence when you reach them.

This means consistently working hard and focusing on repetition which builds confidence because you’re doing the same thing over and over.

This means telling yourself (out loud) that you’re worthy and great and capable which instills a high level of optimism and positive reinforcement.

And it doesn’t matter what you’re doing. This can apply to you practicing sales calls, working on your public speaking, or gaining any kind of new skill. You see what most people don’t realize is that confident people aren’t just born that way.

Confidence is developed and practiced.

Confidence is built and designed.

Confident people are made through doing these things, consciously or subconsciously. And it doesn’t matter what you’re trying to achieve, you absolutely have to have the confidence if you want any chance to actually achieve it.

Do more with less: How to find success through simplicity

Have you ever had an extremely long to-do list, only to end up accomplishing less than half of it by the end of the day?

Or have you been in the midst of doing something important and for no reason at all, you randomly got distracted and started scrolling through social media? Or have you recently been mid-sentence and suddenly lost your train of thought?

Regardless of where you come from, I’m sure you’ve encountered at least one or two of these things happening to you.

Every day we’re clogged and pulled away by preoccupations, diversions, and interruptions. Every day we’re filled with thoughts, ideas, and external consumption.

Every day our obligations, priorities, and activities just increase in size. It’s like we seem to have way more to do than ever before, but way less time to do it.

Like kids in a candy store, there are too many options to choose from. There are so many things we could be doing and people we could be hanging out with. So many careers and opportunities we could pursue.

But were either too far on either end of the spectrum trying to pursue it all or paralyzed to do anything because of the unlimited choices we have in our faces. Most of the time we’re so focused on trying to go fast that we forget to check to see if we’re even going in the right direction.

We all want to reach success, but a lot of us don’t know the first thing about finding it in our own lives.

In a world where everyone is looking for the blueprint to a better life, the few who find it and get the most done consistently, rely on simplifying their life by doing these several things:

1. Pick one thing to focus on at a time.

I’ll set the record straight right now. There is no such thing as multitasking as bad as you might want it to exist. When you’re so-called “multi-tasking” what you’re really doing is simply switching from task to task.

You’re not doing two things simultaneously. It’s impossible. Humans aren’t biologically wired to be able to process two events at one time. We can only focus on one thing at a time.

So narrow down. Lock-in. And choose the one thing you’re going to divert all of your attention too at any given moment.

2. Eliminate every distraction.

TVs, texts, social media, notifications, emails, etc… All of these things intrude on your daily life, but few of them benefit you in terms of productivity. If it’s not serving you for the better, get rid of it. I do the vast majority of my work, with my phone in the other room so I’m not tempted to even touch it or think about it.

I’ve heard other people go to extremes such as deleting every app on their phone and cutting it off during the day. Figure out what strategy works best for you and put it into daily practice.

You’ll increase your productivity by 10x.

3. Create a consistent routine.

We become who we are, not by the things we do every once in a while, but by the things we do consistently.

Routines are important because distractions will always get in the way. If you can build a stable schedule for yourself, not only will it simplify your day and free up your mind, but it will also allow you to build skills day after day, and you’ll know exactly what you’re working towards while helping you track your progress.

4. Get clear on what success means to you.

Success for you could mean making a million dollars a year. It could mean freedom and complete autonomy over your day. It could mean winning awards and having luxurious things. I’m not here to critique or judge.

But I’ve always believed that you need to have a destination in mind well before you start your journey. Think deeply about what success looks like in your life. Get clear on what you want to accomplish and the lifestyle you want to live.

If you start and don’t know where you’re going, how will you know when you actually get there?

5. Know when to rest and recharge.

Life shouldn’t be all about work.

Successful people don’t try to build Rome in a day. They know that nothing great happens overnight so when it’s time to stop working — they stop. They know when to put down the phone, or computer and spend leisure time with their family or read a book.

There is no ultimate balance, but drawing the line and standing firmly by it is still important. You should never be living to make money. Instead, you should only make money so you can live. And know when enough is enough.

Keep in mind that…

The problem usually lies where we think that we need more when really we need less. Less noise, minimal commitments, and fewer things. Less of everything gives up times to see what really matters. It shows us how to simplify our lives to figure out what we’re meant to do on this planet.

Success is never as far as we think it is. It just requires you to create these slight shifts in your life and figure out what you’re working towards.

Why the argument against college athletes getting paid is wrong

I don’t know if you’ve heard or not, but supposedly former NFL quarterback Tim Tebow is adamantly against college athletes having the ability to receive compensation while they’re in school.

During a conversation on the ESPN show First Take with Stephen A. Smith & Max Kellerman, Tebow passionately expressed his disdain for the argument as to why student-athletes should be able to monetize their name and likeness.

You can imagine what the response was from many of the athletes who happened to come across this short clip below.

But before I go any further to explain why Tebow’s opinion is fundamentally wrong – I want to first elaborate a few key facts and findings.

The first being this, Tim Tebow will without a doubt go down as one of the greatest collegiate quarterbacks there ever was. Maybe not in the NFL, but his resume speaks volumes on the college level. Therefore, his opinion on this matter does carry some clout with it. Point blank period.

Secondly, fortunately for Tim Tebow, he doesn’t come from the same circumstances that a wide majority of Division-I student-athletes in the top-earning sports come from. And for those of you reading this who don’t know who the wide majority is, let me enlighten you…

According to Jemelle Hill’s recent article, “It’s Time for Black Athletes to Leave White Colleges“:

About 30 Division I schools each bring in at least $100 million in athletic revenue every year. Almost all of these schools are majority white—in fact, black men make up only 2.4 percent of the total undergraduate population of the 65 schools in the so-called Power Five athletic conferences. Yet black men make up 55 percent of the football players in those conferences, and 56 percent of basketball players.

So while he does have some credibility to speak on this topic, his opinion can’t and doesn’t stand for each and every student-athlete. Especially not the black athletes who, let’s be real, drive most of that revenue for these predominately white institutions.

Tim Tebow can have his opinion, but he can’t speak for the black student-athletes whose family literally can’t afford to come to see them play. He can’t speak for the student-athletes who struggle to feed themselves after the cafeteria closes and don’t have enough money to get food off-campus.

He can’t speak for the student-athletes who come from single-parent households, have several other siblings they are partially responsible for supporting and is the last chance of hope for a family who is banking on that athlete to make it to the pros.

Frankly, his credibility lacks in that area.

When I was playing Division-I basketball at Niagara University, I couldn’t even tell you how many times I went to sleep without eating because we got out of study hall or class when the cafeteria was closed and couldn’t buy food off-campus. And I came from a decent family situation. It wasn’t perfect, but my mother, unlike most of my other teammates could help me out from time to time.

There were many times I heard my teammates complain about their family situation or talk about how they had to send the little travel stipend they had back home to support their family or even their kids.

What it actually means to be a student-athlete is a far cry from what the perception is. There is a lot of sacrifices, oftentimes for little reward.

Even if you take economic inequality, privilege, and poverty off of the table, the simple fact of the matter is that student-athletes not only deserve to the opportunity to get paid for their labor, it is the right as a citizen.

I cannot think of any other job or position in this country that probits an individual from using their given name for profit. That is a basic right of the country that these athletes play in and the NCAA is benefiting in a number of ways off of a system that has oppressed and furthermore taken advantage of athletes for many years.

So if we really access Tim Tebow’s argument against paying players – Tebow is well within his right to not want to be paid for his talents as an amateur athlete.

But looking at the entire landscape of Divison-I sports and the top revenue-generating universities, this is an issue about human rights. This is an issue of oppression. This is an issue about what’s right and what’s just flat-out wrong.

And what the NCAA is doing in this situation is just wrong.

While some might feel allowing players to get paid will take away the purity and passion of sports in college, others might tell you to first just walk one day in the shoes of some of these athletes.

Take a deeper look at the backgrounds and situations these players come from.

Open your eyes to the reality of some of the struggles these athletes experience and just maybe you’ll see how big of a deal it is to be stripped of a basic human right as a student-athlete.

3 key lessons for student-athletes who want to maximize their productivity

One of the things that I personally believe people admire athletes for is their ability to get things done at any cost. Whenever I see an athlete set a goal — in sports, business, health or just in life in general – they are laser-focused and diligent when it comes to reaching that outcome.

It doesn’t matter what the goal is or when it has to be completed, putting an athlete on the job almost 100% guarantees that goal will get accomplished. I’ve also noticed that this is one of the main reasons why employers like to hire athletes.

Employers know that athletes have had to maximize and manage their time effectively throughout their athletic career. That particular skill alone can equal a high level of productivity in the workplace.

But at the same time, it’s common nowadays for all of us to confuse being busy with being productive. Companies, teams, and organizations can misinterpret or become uncertain about what their desired outcomes should be which essentially trickles down to their employees and/or other team members.

When you have no clear direction, then people start doing things without understanding the significance behind it. So, it leads people to subconsciously look at busy work and productivity as one and the same.

Busy work vs. Productivity

Before we go any further, let’s clear up the difference between the two. When it comes down to it, busy work is simply doing work that keeps you occupied. Ultimately, it’s just work that wastes time and doesn’t equal up to accomplishing your desired outcome.

Productivity is doing work that requires your immediate attention and focus and will help you move towards whatever it is you’re trying to get done. It is really hard to always be attentive and focused, but cognitive enhancer supplements known as nootropics will be a good choice for you. You can easily boost your cognitive productivity with nootropics which you can find at Chemical Planet.

The number one key is knowing exactly what you’re trying to get done as I will continue to reiterate throughout this article because it’s that important.

To further drill it home, here are a few specific examples between the two: Busy work can include writing a huge list of sales prospects, reading urgent but unimportant emails, and coming up with an article title and inserting a picture on the post.

An example of productive work would be making 50 sales calls, responding to important and urgent emails, and writing and posting an article or blog post. When I think of being productive, I think about when I was a student-athlete.

During my time being a collegiate athlete; I had a lot on my plate.

Between class, homework, study hall, practice, games and trying to maintain somewhat of a “social life,” while attending mandatory team activities, put a lot of pressure on me. I had to really know how to manage my time if I wanted to make it through those four years successfully.

This in itself taught me a lot about how to be productive with the time I had. Here are the top three things being a student-athlete taught me about how to maximize productivity:

1. Be specific and have a clear focus on what you’re trying to get done

You can’t be productive without first knowing what it is you’re trying to accomplish. Your objectives have to not only be clear, but they also have to be attainable, measurable and specific.

When I had a study hall, I would focus on getting two assignments done that were due that week instead of just one. Or when I would go to the weight room, I would have a clear, well-thought-out plan for my weightlifting lift routine. Same thing when I did a workout on the court.

I would set a goal for the number of shots I wanted to make that day. You have to be ruthlessly intentional and deliberate with your productivity if you plan on maximizing it.

2. Completely master the time that you do have

I get that we all have obligations and things that we’re trying to balance in life; therefore, it’s important to eliminate any distractions that might prevent you from getting what you need to do done.

It’s said that people perform to the expectations that are set. For example, if I give you an hour to write an 800-word article, you’d use that entire hour to do so. Whereas, if I gave you 30 minutes, it would take you the same amount of time to accomplish that article. Nothing has changed except for the expectations that were created.

So it’s not about how much time you have to work. It’s about what you’re doing with the time that you do have.

3. Don’t judge yourself too much

There will absolutely be times when things don’t get accomplished as effectively as you want them to. Don’t beat yourself up for having off days. In the past, if I didn’t perform up to the high standards or expectations that I set for myself, I would be overly critical and judgemental.

It would bother me for days. I started to realize that wasn’t healthy and what’s done is done and in the past. If you can look yourself in the mirror at the end of the day and honestly say that you gave your maximum effort, then that’s all you can ask for. Be kind to your future self.

The first step to becoming more productive and getting more things done is always knowing what you want and where you’re trying to go. Because as easy as it is to do busy work disguised as productive work, it’s just as easy to do productive work that can lead you in the wrong direction.

Maximizing productivity is like having a destination for your GPS. If you want to get to your desired destination efficiently and within a reasonable timeframe, you have to start with the end in mind.

Otherwise, you could be going in the right direction, but it might take you longer, you might make a wrong turn or you could even end up down to the street if you’re not careful enough.

Be extremely clear. Be specific. And lastly, understand that maximizing productivity is a constant work in progress.

From athlete to entrepreneur: 12 athletes who are becoming tycoons

Being an entrepreneur and being an athlete is comparable in a lot of ways.
The mindset you gotta have, the risks you have to take and the obstacles that you’ll endure throughout the journey is similar on both sides.

We are now at the beginning of a shift where we are seeing more athletes becoming entrepreneurs because they are realizing the amount of power they have, in addition to the importance of ownership and long-term generational wealth.

They are learning from the athletes that came before them and understanding the mistakes that those athletes made during and after their careers. They are taking what they’ve learned in sports and they are applying it to different endeavors outside of the game.

Stepping outside of the box and becoming “more than an athlete” can be uncomfortable for some people; nonetheless, a lot of them have done it in various avenues and have had extreme success. Most of these athletes are creating these businesses and ventures while they are still playing, which amazing within itself.

This is a testament not only to having a strong vision in place, but also the athlete being able to surround themselves with the right people who see that vision, understand it and can help execute it.

We are beginning to see that athletes are not just athletes anymore and it shows every time one of them invests in a company, starts a foundation, launches a new product or creates compelling content online.

Top tier athletes are leading this new wave and hopefully, they’ll encourage other athletes to built upon the platform that they have as well. For these reasons, I want to highlight 12 current athletes, who are also entrepreneurs, and the ventures that they have started during their athletic careers.

1. The Williams Sisters

Venus and her sister Serena have been getting it done on the tennis court for years, but now they are building multiple businesses outside of the game as well. Venus Williams is the CEO of interior design company VStarr Interiors and of the athletic wear brand EleVen, a company that makes tennis clothing and performance women’s clothing for yoga, fitness, running, and dance.

Serena Williams has invested in 34 startups over the past several years through Serena Ventures in a portfolio worth at least $10 million. She also launched a self-funded, direct-to-consumer clothing line, S by Serena, in 2018.

They both are minority owners of the Miami Dolphins and the UFC.

2. LeBron James

We all are familiar with LeBron the superstar, but as an entrepreneur, he has developed and created several projects in recent years. James is the co-founder of Uninterrupted, a social media company that connects athletes with fans and SpringHill Entertainment, a production company that signed a deal with Warner Bros.

He is also a part-owner of Blaze, a restaurant chain that’s been called the Chipotle of pizza. One of his most incredible business achievements involves him signing a lifetime deal with Nike. In 2018, he did something that no other athlete to my knowledge has done by starting his own school called I Promise, in his hometown of Akron, OH.

3. Kevin Durant

Kevin Durant launched Durant Co. with his manager and business partner Rich Kleiman and together they have invested in over 30 companies.

Some of those companies include an on-demand car care start-up called Yoshi, an autonomous drone start-up called Skydio, a cloud data management start-up called Rubrik, a mobile marketplace for private charter flights called JetSmarter, the food-delivery service Postmates and the micro-lender Acorns among others.

His endorsement portfolio includes Nike, Alaska Airlines and American Family Insurance. He also has a media company called Thirty Five Media that not only produces his content on YouTube but also other original content for the platform.

4. Stephen Curry

Along with his business partner Jeron Smith, Steph has not only started his own media company called Unanimous Media, which has already released it’s first full-length movie called Breakthrough but has also invested in a few different start-up companies such as Slyce and SnapTavel.

Curry is also among the world’s most marketable athletes, with his sponsorship roster including Palm and Rakuten. He also started his Underrated Tour which helps unknown high school basketball recruits get noticed for scholarship opportunities.

5. Dwyane Wade

The recently retired superstar is enjoying life after the game, especially due to his business endeavors that he started while playing with the Miami Heat. He left Michael Jordan’s Jordan Brand in 2012 to join Chinese sneaker company Li-Ning, in part because the company offered him the freedom to be hands-on and creative.

He’s the only athlete to have his own line with The Tie Bar, for whom he creates colorful bow ties and pocket squares to match his equally colorful socks. Wade also owns his custom line of Away luggage and has his hands on various other lifestyle brands and businesses.

6. JJ Watt

While he is a beast on the football field, JJ is also doing incredible work in the community as a businessman. His off the field earnings are on par with the elite quarterbacks.

There aren’t many other defensive players in the NFL that pull in as much money as he does from endorsements. Sponsorship partners include American Family Insurance, NRG, Reebok, Gatorade, H-E-B, Ford and Verizon.

After Hurricane Harvey, Watt helped raise $37 million for flood victims in his adopted hometown of Houston through a viral funding campaign on the site YouCaring.

His Justin J. Watt Foundation has made hundreds of smaller donations, usually a few thousand dollars, to after-school athletic programs. He also offered to pay for the funerals of the victims of the tragic shooting at a Santa Fe school.

7. Derrick Morgan

Morgan has always been business and education first, so he started preparing for life after sports right after he tore his ACL when he first got to the NFL.

Since then he has started Huddle Ventures, which is an angel fund that exists to address challenges facing minority entrepreneurs through investing. He is also on the board of the organization Athlete for Care and holds a business degree from Georgia Tech and received his MBA from Miami (Fla.).

8. Maria Sharapova

Maria came to America as a young girl and her ability to perform on the tennis court combined with attractive personality has afforded her opportunities to expand her brand and partner with companies such as Canon, Porsche, Nike, Head, and Evian.

She has started and established her own brands as a businesswoman creating Sugarpova, a global candy line. She has also gained millions of dollars throughout her years playing through endorsements from big companies and other business opportunities.

9. Drew Brees

Quiet as kept, Drew Brees might be one the NFL’s most unknown and successful entrepreneurs. The 18-year veteran has earned more than $220 million in on-field pay throughout his career, and he leads all NFL players in sponsor money ($16 million).

Brees also owns multiple Jimmy John’s and Dunkin’ franchises (over 60). In 2016, he branched out from restaurant chains and into the fitness arena when he signed as the new co-owner of boxing franchise Title Boxing Club.

He also invested in food delivery service Waitr. His foundation has donated more than $25 million to causes and academic institutions in New Orleans, San Diego and West Lafayette/Purdue communities.

10. Tom Brady

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We all know Tom Brady the GOAT, but his moves off of the football field might be just as prolific. Brady’s stats have helped him garner a slew of endorsements.

Between June 2015 and June 2016, he earned $8 million from sponsors such as Tag Heuer, Simmons Bedding Company, Ugg and Under Armour, according to Forbes. In May 2017, Aston Martin announced a multi-year partnership with Brady to promote its DB11 car, which starts at $211,995.

When he’s not promoting other businesses, Brady stays busy with his own endeavors. He has a sports therapy center, the TB12 Center, in Foxboro, Mass., and partnered with meal-kit company Purple Carrot for his TB12 Performance Meals. He has also sold different athletic products and gear and has published several performance books.

11. Cristiano Ronaldo

There are very few athletes that can command prices as much as Ronaldo does just for social media posts. He also has several endorsement deals which bring in millions of dollars each year including Nike, Herbalife, EA Sports, and American Tourister.

Not included in this is his own company, CR7, and various branded products including shoes, underwear, fragrance, jeans, a children’s line, a line of hotels and soon-to-open restaurants in Brazil.

The strength of Ronaldo’s brand and social presence continues to grow to this day and when it is all said and done, he will go down as one of the most influential athletes of this generation without a doubt.

12. Paul Rabil

Widely know as lacrosse’s first million-dollar athlete, Paul Rabil has built an enormous personal brand. He’s also a highly successful media operator, investor, and entrepreneur, most recently as a founder of the Premier Lacrosse League, launched in 2018.

Rabil began his professional lacrosse career while working full-time, which is common. He eventually quit that job and started a clinic business to support his lacrosse wages. During the next three years, Rabil achieved numerous on-field accomplishments, launched a successful personal business, and operated on all major social media platforms, which drove more lucrative endorsement deals his way.

Not to mention, he also has a successful podcast called “Suiting Up with Paul Rabil,” where he interviews athletes, executives, and entertainers on a variety of topics.

The Future of Athletes In Business

There is a ton of other athletes who could have been highlighted in this article. The fact of the matter is that there are so many athletes that are doing incredible things, breaking into the business world and creating ventures from the ground up.

They are ensuring their impact goes well beyond the court or field. They are using their influence and power to build more sustainable futures outside of the game. It’s inspiring to see from the outside looking in.

My greatest hope is that every athlete will use their leverage to pursue other passions and interests outside of their sports. It’s not about the money, but more about taking control of your future and being able to do something you love once you’re done playing.

Sports will end for every athlete, but ownership is forever. It’s a remarkable time to be an athlete, because of the opportunities that can present themselves and the best part about it is that it’s only the beginning.