LeBron James was a poor high school student when he turned down a snap offer of $10 million from apparel giant Reebok.

The Cavaliers' superstar has revealed how the American sportswear company tried to strong-arm him into signing a deal on the spot in a bid to blow Nike and adidas out of the water.

Speaking on an episode of his own Uninterrupted sports news website, the 32-year-old admitted he is still shocked to this day that he was able to walk away from a $10 million cheque while his family was living such a modest lifestyle in Akron, Ohio, as his mother struggled to hold down a steady full time job.

James sparked a bidding war among the sport apparel giants after declaring he would enter the 2003 NBA Draft as an 18-year-old having been described by some talent scouts as the "the most hyped basketball player ever".


Before his senior year in high school, James had already featured on the covers of SLAM magazine and Sports Illustrated after wowing in his performances for the St Vincent-St Mary varsity team.

It's why Reebok came knocking one day.

James said in the interview he and his family were flown from Ohio to the Reebok headquarters in Boston to meet with former Reebok chairman Paul Fireman.

It turns out, Fireman was ready to lay it all on the line in that meeting in a bid to land James' signature before he had a chance to meet with Nike and adidas.

Speaking with childhood friend and part of his player agency team Maverick Carter, James said he still can't believe he walked away from the offer.

LeBron James turned down $10 million from Reebok when he was 18 years old. 👀 (via @uninterrupted)

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"I remember, first of all, it was the longest damn table I've ever seen in my life," James said of the meeting at Reebok headquarters.

"The longest damn board room table I've ever seen in my life. I had no idea what he (Fireman) was doing at the other end of the table. I saw him writing something and he was talking. He had his head down and he was making sure he didn't get anything wrong on that cheque and when he slid it down there and he said, 'You can take this right now, but you have to promise me you won't go see Nike or adidas'.

"I was lost for words at the beginning. S***, we flew in from Akron, Ohio, from the projects. Our rent was like $17 a month. A month. Now I'm looking at a $10 million cheque that I can go back to high school with the next day. I was going back to home room the next morning, so I was like, 'Holy s***'.


"And then for some odd reason I started thinking, if this guy, who is a great guy, and I still love him to this day, but if he's willing to offer me a $10 million cheque now, what is to say that Nike or adidas isn't going to give me $20 million or $30 million up front?

"Or to say that, maybe, the upfront money is not even the biggest thing. Maybe let's start thinking about the back end."

"I still can't believe I left that $10 million."

It ended up being one of the smartest money decisions he ever made - and it's a competitive field.

James signed a $90 million deal with Nike before he was even drafted.

The seven-year deal led to James' long-term relationship with Nike, which is the biggest sponsorship deal the NBA has ever seen.

James signed a crazy lifetime contract with Nike last year in a deal reportedly worth between $500 million and $1 billion.

It's rudely unfair, but you have to imagine Fireman has some regrets about not offering the four-time NBA MVP another few million back in 2003.