Rich Paul, LeBron James’ 33-year-old agent and longtime friend, is one of the most influential people in sports.
He orchestrated LeBron’s shock return to Cleveland this summer, holding talks with the Cavs while LeBron was on vacation and negotiating an incredibly smart contract that maximizes his client’s earnings potential in the long term.
Joe Drape of The New York Times wrote a profile of Paul, and it sheds some new light on just how far the agent has come in the past decade.
When Paul was 21 years old he met LeBron, who was still in high school at the time, at the airport in their hometown of Akron. Paul hadn’t gone to college and was trying to get his throwback jersey business off the ground when he ran into LeBron.
James, captivated by Paul’s Warren Moon throwback jersey, asked where he got it. It turned out that Paul was selling jerseys out of the trunk of his car and was going to Atlanta to buy more. He gave James his connection in Atlanta, and he told him to drop his name for a discount, and then went on his way.
‘It was fate,’ Paul said. ‘I could have missed the plane. I could have taken an earlier flight. I could have not worn the jersey. I could have been having a bad day and not spoken to him.’