Highest Paid Athletes To Date and Their Background

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If you follow sports, you’ll be aware of the incredible amount athletes have in their bank account. 

But did you know exactly how much these talented athletes are worth? Becoming an athlete isn’t easy, and it isn't just based off of your talents and skills, but also some luck in getting spotted. The highest paid athletes in the world worked extremely hard to make it to the top and have no intentions of stopping any time soon. Training virtually every day and remaining committed to their passions, it hasn’t come easy to any of them. Let’s take a look at the highest paid athletes in the world from different sports.

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The Highest Paid Athletes

We've compiled the highest paid athletes in the world. This includes their net worth and how they made it. Plus, we've thrown in some interesting facts about their career and childhood years.  

1. Cristiano Ronaldo - $400 million

Born on 5 February 1985, Cristiano Ronaldo is a soccer superstar from Portugal. At the young age of 16, Manchester’s football club paid £12 million to sign him – which created a record for a player of his age. In 2008, Real Madrid paid $131 million for him to play for their team. This enormous price broke a record.

Ronaldo also set some of the most legendary goal scoring records ever. He’s currently the captain of the Portuguese football team and has won plenty of awards for his performance at multiple football clubs.

Although successful and wealthy now, Ronaldo shared a bedroom with his siblings when younger and grew up poor. As a child, his parents nicknamed him “cry-baby”. This was because he’d jump out of the window and run off to escape completing his homework whilst his parents were busy with chores. His rebellious nature got him expelled from school at the age of 14 when he threw a chair at his teacher. His mother encouraged him to focus his attention and time on soccer as to remain true to himself. It certainly paid off!

2. Floyd Mayweather - $1 billion

American boxer Floyd Mayweather was born in Michigan on February 24, 1977. The world recognizes him as the greatest boxer of his era and his father, Floyd Sr., also had a passion for boxing. In fact, his father was a welterweight contender and his uncle, Roger Mayweather, is a former WBA super featherweight and lightweight champion.

Mayweather’s father introduced him to the gum as soon as he could walk, and as well as punching bags each time they visited. By the age of seven, he owned a pair of boxing gloves. He quickly became recognized as a staple boxer at his local gym.

Following his father’s footsteps, he continued to work hard to earn a good name for himself. However, his family life wasn’t easy as his father, a drug dealer, had a bad temper. Mayweather’s mother also had substance abuse issues which combined, caused complications in the household.

Nonetheless, Mayweather persevered. On top of being a legendary boxer, Mayweather is a businessman too, and started his own promotion company. He transformed himself to Money Mayweather and appeared on Dancing With The Stars and Wrestle Mania. His huge social media following has reached over 37 million followers and Mayweather has continuous plans to expand his career in other dimensions too.

3. LeBron James - $440 million

NBA star LeBron James was born on December 30, 1984 and is one of the highest paid athletes. He has worked exceedingly hard to reach the top. After skipping college to focus on spots, he won his third championship with Cleveland in 2016. The professional American basketball player was selected in 2003 by the Cleveland Cavaliers and quickly became named the Rookie of the Year. Just at the age of 19, James became the youngest player of basketball in the 2004 Athens Olympics. One year later, he made history again by scoring more than 50 points in one game.

For the majority of fourth grade, James missed 82 of 160 days of school. This was because he was ashamed his mother spent time in jail for disorderly conduct and trespassing. During his time at school, his favourite school was art, and this is evident in his quirky and unique shoe designs today. Despite a few setbacks, he remains a dedicated and talented player.

His personal life is sweet as he married his high school sweetheart, Savannah Brinson. The married couple have two sons together and reside in Coconut Grove – a neighbourhood in Miami. James is also an active supporter for many charities and established his own charity foundation called the LeBron James Family Foundation. Its mission is to improve children and young adults’ lives through education and co-curricular education.

4. Stephen Curry - $60 million

Professional basketball player Stephen Curry represents the Golden State Warriors in the NBA. Curry played his first college game against Eastern Michigan when he joined Davidson College. During the game, he scored 15 points and showed his talent. As a result, he became the second scored in the nation at that time.

His skills didn’t stop there as he continued breaking records with 122 three-pointers as a freshman in his first season of professional basketball. Towards his junior year, Curry became an all-time leading scorer and surpassed the previous leader, John Gerdy.

Curry didn’t complete his senior year at Davidson College as he left to play for the NBA and showcased his shooting skills as soon as he hit the court. During 2012-2013, he spent time recovering from a serious ankle sprain and returned to score 272 three-pointers, setting a new NBA record.

Despite being a professional basketball player, Curry loves playing golf regularly in his spare time. But nothing can replace his passion for basketball, which he started playing at just five years old. Although his career is a huge priority in his life, his daughters, Riley and Ryan are his main priority and often come into the limelight with him.

5. Neymar - $90 million

At only 26 years old, Neymar is one of the highest paid athletes in the world. Born on February 5, 1992, Neymar displayed amazing soccer skills at an early age. As a teenager, he won four Player of the Year awards and become one of Brazil’s most popular public figures.

His entrance to the world began at the age of 11 when Europe heard about his amazing fitness skills. By 12, he signed his first. At 14 years old, Real Madrid offered him the chance to continue his development and training. Then in 2009, at the young age of 17, he earned the league’s Best Young Player award and one year later, most of the world had heard of him.

As one of the highest paid athletes, what does he spend $90 million on? He’s openly said that his mansion cost $10 million which has its own helipad, along with a private jet which cost $4.7 million. In 2017, he signed a five-year deal for around $600 million after switching from Barcelona to Paris Saint German before his contract renewal.

6. Lionel Messi - $80 million

Argentina’s footballer Lionel Messi was born into a working-class family, with his father working as a factory worker and his mother a cleaner. From a young age, Messi developed a talent and love for soccer. However, he was diagnosed with growth hormone deficiency at 11 years old, which affected his play. In an unhealthy state during much of those days, Messi’s parents couldn’t afford his treatment which cost $900 a month.

However, that didn’t stop him from climbing to the top. At the young age of 16, he made his first appearance playing for the FC Barcelona. In 2005, he scored a goal as the youngest player ever for the franchise, and that same year, scored on a pair of penalty kicks to put the club in the lead. Thanks to his amazing speed and agility, he’s nicknamed as ‘The Flea’.

Away from football, Messi lives a private and quiet life though insists of helping other people’s lives. He formed a charity called the Leo Messi Foundation in 2007, to positively affect young lives and provide opportunities for disadvantaged youths. Three years later, he became a goodwill ambassador of UNICEF which focuses on fighting children’s rights across the globe.


Who’s Your Favourite Athlete?

We hope you enjoyed reading these mind-blowing figures of the highest paid athletes in the world. It’s’ fascinating to read how many of them spend their earnings – mostly on charities. Their background stories are inspirational and help us to keep faith that anything is possible if you want it enough.

Who are your favourite athletes and how do they inspire you? Leave your thoughts in the comments to keep this conversation going.

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