CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - Growing up poor has never been an issue for LeBron James. The Cleveland Cavaliers star may have been only 18-years-old when he was drafted but he was definitely grounded.
His longtime friend and business partner Maverick Carter has been right by his side from day one and said he honestly questioned some of James' business decisions early on.
"We were sitting in that room at Reebok and Paul Fireman was very smart, he said to you 'I know you're going to go see Nike and Adidas but I'm going to offer you $10 million today if you don't go see them and shake my hand,'" Maverick Carter explained. "He wrote you a $10 million dollar check in that room and you turned it down. I can't say that I would have turned it down. I mean I think in the room I said 'hey let's take this check and get the hell out of here!'"
LeBron said he remembers being in that room and remembers Fireman writing the check and sliding it to him.
"I was at a loss for words at the beginning. I flew in from Akron, OH, from Springhill, from the projects," James said. "Our rent was like $17 a month and now I'm looking at a $10 million check. I was going to homeroom the next morning so I was like holy sh**!"
James said he started thinking to himself...if Reebok is willing to give him that much money right now, who's to say Nike or Adidas isn't willing to give him double or even more money up front?
James also said he wanted to give everyone [Reebok, Nike, Adidas] an opportunity to say what they have, to pitch themselves. And the old adage, that his uncles used to teach him, came to mind at that moment, 'Never put all your eggs in one basket.'
What many people may not know is that LeBron James walked away from a deal with McDonald's, a deal that guaranteed him another $15 million -- to invest in a smaller fast food chain, Blaze Pizza.
"I believed in the actual product first. I tasted the product and the product was phenomenal. And you [Maverick Carter] actually came at me with the proposition that we could actually own our own and be franchisee's of a couple cities in America. The numbers you were showing me, the potential we could make if we just put the time and effort into it exceeded what McDonald's would be guaranteeing me over the next four years," said James. "But more importantly, forget the money, we could actually build something and if it doesn't become successful I can only blame myself."
James is also more of a hands on type of guy.
"Just to say you started from the bottom and you created something where you can look at it and say 'wow, we did that, we did that and we own that,'" James explained.
James' success has a lot to do with his thought process, it's well beyond his years. He may be living now but he's always thinking about the future.
"There's going to be more time of my life spent off the floor than on the floor. I still have to live life beyond the hardwood," said James.