Rich Paul, LeBron James’ 39-year-old agent and longtime friend, is one of the most influential people in professional sports. 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, Ohio. Paul hadn’t gone to college and was trying to get his budding throwback jersey business off the ground when he ran into LeBron. Lebron admired Paul’s Warren Moon jersey and the two stayed in touch and became fast friends.
After LeBron got picked No. 1 overall he hired Paul on a $50,000 annual salary. Over the years Paul learned more and more about the sports business and went from LeBron’s glorified personal assistant to his full-time agent. Lebron left Creative Artists Agency in 2012 to be repped by Paul. The first contract Rich Paul inked was Lebron’s return to Cleveland in 2014. As with most James signings, it was the biggest sports deal signed that year. Paul’s firm Klutch Sports Group also represents NBA elites such as including Anthony Davis, Eric Bledsoe, John Wall, Ben Simmons, Draymond Green, Jusuf Nurkić. Klutch currently has over $32 million in commissions, according to Forbes, with $814 million in contract value. Paul himself is estimated to have a net worth of $25 million.
In July 2019 Klutch received a significant investment from UTA a Hollywood agency, which previously had focused on the entertainment clients. That deal created the brand UTA Sports, which Paul now leads in partnership. This was strategic move to open up entertainment and media opportunities for his clients and has made UTA a major player in sports representation.
Not content with NBA, Paul has branched out into sports leagues through acquisitions of other agencies, notably Klutch Sports’ acquisition of Damarius Bilbo’s Revolution Sports which gave it NFL players to rep and acquired Tidal Sports Group a move that marks Klutch’s entry into baseball representation.