These 10 Black Athletes Dominate As Professional Team Owners While Remaining Active In Their Respective Sports

For years, there was a disconnect between the representation of athletes playing on the field or courts and those who made the big decisions for the sports industry.

As time evolves, more and more Black athletes continue to dominate the world of sports, particularly in the NBA and NFL. According to data from Statista, Black athletes make up over 70% of active NBA players during the 2023 season. For the NFL, Statista further reports that a bit more than 56% of players in 2022 were Black athletes.

Although the percentage of Black players is disproportionately lower in other major sports leagues such as the MLB (6.2%) or the NHL (less than 5%), the push and impact of Black players can be felt across the entire sports landscape.

The increased diversification throughout sports as an industry, some would argue, necessitated the need for more decision-makers in executive roles — primarily team ownership.

In 2002, the barrier was broken as the founder of BET, Robert “Bob” Johnson, became the owner of the then-new expansion team, the Charlotte Bobcats (now Hornets). According to the New York Times, the expansion made Johnson the first-ever Black principal professional sports team owner.

Since Johnson’s entry into the executive ranks, more Black professionals have entered the ownership space, stretching beyond the NBA. Today, sports ownership includes majority and minority shareholders, with wealthy professionals and current and past athletes participating as well.

The trend began after former NBA superstar Michael Jordan became the first Black athlete to be the majority owner of any major professional team. Although he no longer has his majority stake, other athletes have entered the ownership game, obtaining a majority or minority stake in teams across several leagues, including NASCAR, WNBA, and professional soccer.

The tides have changed, however, for current athletes. No longer are players waiting until retirement to flex their muscles off the court. Some noted athletes contribute to their respective teams during play while serving as team executives elsewhere.

Let’s look at a list of active Black athletes with ownership shares in any professional sports team.

In 2020, Parker, a WNBA player, became part owner of Angel City Football Club (ACFC), joining the National Women’s Soccer League and Los Angeles Angel City ownership group.

A defensive end for the NFL’s Cleveland Browns, Garrett is keeping it in the city with a minority stake in the NBA team Cleveland Cavaliers. He also owns a percentage of the Texas Ranchers, a Major League Pickleball team.

The Kansas City Chiefs quarterback has an extensive ownership portfolio, with an ownership stake in teams across the Missouri city. Mahomes has part ownership in the MLB’s Kansas City Royals, MLS’ Sporting Kansas City, and NWSL’s Kansas City Current. Most recently, he gathered a stake in the investment group of the motorsport team Alpin F1.

James has given small Easter eggs on the details of his NBA retirement, one of them being his investment moves to secure his financial future. Of those moves, he became a minority owner in the MLB’s Boston Red Sox, NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins, Liverpool Football Club, and Roush Fenway Racing.

The young tennis star has ownership in a National Women’s Soccer League team, the North Carolina Courage. In 2022, she added the Miami Pickleball Club to her ownership portfolio.

Harden is known for his athleticism in the NBA, but his ownership stake includes professional men’s and women’s soccer clubs, Houston Dynamo and Houston Dash, respectively.

Antetokounmpo is part owner of the MLB’s Milwaukee Brewers. He is also a part owner, along with his brothers — Thanasis, Kostas, and Alex Antetokounmpo — of the Nashville Soccer Club, as well as the Los Angeles Golf Club, the inaugural team of Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy’s TGL golf league.

Hamilton speeds across the Nascar tracks but spends his off time as part owner of the NFL’s Denver Broncos.

Arguably one of the NBA’s most impactful players today, Durant is also making an impact off the court. He is part owner of three professional teams – MLS’ Philadelphia Union, pickleball team Brooklyn Aces, and NY/NJ Gotham FC.

Veteran quarterback Russell Wilson has secured his place as a top quarterback in the NFL. He is also part owner of the Seattle Sounders FC.

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