NBA MVP ALL-STAR RUSSELL WESTBROKE’s Plans To Break A Billion

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vincity May 14, 2023
Updated 2023/05/14 at 5:25 PM
Russell Westbrook of the LA Clippers

Russell Westbrook, in his Los Angeles office, wants to be as successful as Jordan and LeBron - away from basketball

The former NBA MVP isn’t waiting until retirement to start building an empire. With a team of billionaire advisors, the 14th-highest-paid athlete in the world is already scoring with his fashion brand, advertising agency and other lucrative investments. Next up, his un-sexiest business venture yet.

Russell Westbrook makes an executive decision. Ditching his white dress shirt, he walks into his Forbes photo shoot with his bare chest peeking out from beneath his tan linen suit, accessorized with thick black boots and a gold necklace.

 

It’s hard to imagine too many other aspiring business moguls making a similar fashion choice, but then again, most don’t have the body of a nine-time NBA All-Star, or the flair for fashion. It’s a fitting look for the 34-year-old Los Angeles Clippers point guard, who is straddling two worlds, playing out the final years of his NBA career while working tirelessly to build a business empire that he hopes will eventually eclipse his triple-double records on the court. “I want to be a billionaire,” he says. “Sooner than later.”

 

 

 

 

 

History says he won’t get there. Only three athletes have achieved billionaire status according to ForbesMichael JordanLeBron James and Tiger Woods—and Westbrook has made it only about a third of the way. Across 15 NBA seasons, he has earned more than $336 million in salary (before taxes and agent fees) and nearly $200 million from endorsements and other businesses off the court, according to Forbes estimates. This year, he is the 14th-highest-paid athlete in the world, having earned an estimated $82.1 million over the last 12 months. Those earnings make up the bulk of his net worth, which Forbes estimates to be $375 million. But the likely Hall of Famer has been making money moves for years.

 
 

His passion for fashion led him to start a streetwear brand in 2017, Honor The Gift. The label is now in more than 300 retail locations around the world and opened a flagship store in L.A. last fall. Revenue was a very modest $5.7 million last year, but sales were up 75% from 2021. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

t’s a work ethic he brings from basketball, where the odds were similarly stacked against him as he grew up in a poor neighborhood in southwestern Los Angeles, 15 miles and a world away from Crypto.com Arena, where he now stars. “My mantra is ‘Why not?’ I live by that,” he says. “It took 75 years for somebody to average a triple-double. Well, I did it four times.”

Westbrook’s celebrity has also afforded him the opportunity to learn from an elite roster of American business magnates such as billionaire investor and Legendary Entertainment founder Thomas Tull, Banc of California cofounder Chad Brownstein, former Starbucks president Arthur Rubenfeld and Mickey Segal, managing partner of NKSFB, one of the Hollywood’s leading wealth management firms. In turn they have become mentors, investment advisors and business partners.

Westbrook’s most successful investment to date was a $9 million stake in Tull’s holding company, Tulco—the largest stakeholder in insurance giant Acrisure—which is now worth more than 10x its initial value and has already earned him a $14.4 million payday after Tulco sold its stake in medical apparel maker FIGS during the company’s IPO.

“What I’ve always told him is, look, man, just about anybody will take a meeting with you because of who you are,” says Tull, who is worth $2.8 billion, according to Forbes estimates. “Use that so when you’re done playing, you’ve built a living, breathing network of people that you can call, rely on, do things with that don’t have anything to do with basketball.”

During the Covid-19 lockdowns, the perennially busy Westbrook had plenty of time to devise a game plan about life after basketball, and he hired Donell Beverly, a former teammate at Leuzinger High School in L.A., as president of the revamped Russell Westbrook Enterprises.

In rapid succession, RWE led a large investment round in the digital financial platform Varo Bank, with Westbrook joining the company as an advisor to boost financial literacy in underserved communities. He also partnered with Acrisure to found Evolution Advisors, which offers financial products for businesses owned by underrepresented entrepreneurs, and with Brownstein to make investments in healthcare and nutrition for at-risk communities.

 

 

 

 

 

 

With clients like AT&T, Nike, PepsiCo, American Airlines, Varo Bank and A+E Networks, Westbrook expects RW Digital to bring in $37 million in revenue this year and turn a profit. He’s also invested an undisclosed amount in a real estate fund focused on urban development in South L.A., which broke ground on its first project in late 2022. “When people think of Los Angeles and think of the underserved, the inner city,” Westbrook says, “I want the first thing that pops up to be Russell Westbrook and the things we’re doing in the community.”

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