Luol Deng has spent some 15 seasons in the National Basketball League for various teams, and while he might not make the highlight reel these days, he is certainly making highlights off the court and his bank account thanks him for it.
The 34-year-old forward, who played for the Minnesota Timberwolves this past season, has already been thinking about life away from the court, which is why he began investing heavily in real estate.
His investments go way back to 2004 and he has amassed an impressive portfolio that includes “hotels, resorts, condos and apartment buildings—worth $125 million,” according to Forbes.
To put that into perspective, Deng’s career earnings on the court are $151 million.
“If you know the market and you are using your leverage and doing the right deals, it is really nonstop with the opportunities,” Deng says.
“I’ve always had a love for real estate and wanted to do something in Chicago for a long time,” says Deng, who spent 10 years playing for the Bulls.
O-zones allow investors to plow recent capital gains into projects or companies in low-income areas in each state. Gains compound tax-free, and there are no limits on how much money you put in and how much tax you can avoid. There are nearly 9,000 designated O-zone areas, which are required to have a poverty rate of at least 20% or a median household income that is less than 80% of that of the surrounding area. Deng and at least a half-dozen NBA stars are part of Our Opportunity, which is a new O-zone fund seeking to raise $300 million this year.
Deng originally started with investments in East Africa and London before putting his money to work in the USA.
“…spec houses in the Hamptons to multifamily units in Baltimore to the Virgin Hotels Las Vegas and a luxury resort in the Bahamas under his company’s banner, D3N9, which is a play on his name and number of siblings.”
ESPN 30 for 30 chronicled the many players who once had it all, only to lose it to things such as bad investments to helping friends and family.
“We talk about players going broke, but we don’t talk about why that is happening,” Deng says. “The symposiums were a way to teach players about real estate and foster better understanding of these kinds of investments.”
He might be 15 years in, but he is definitely not ready to call it a career as of yet. Deng is still owed $15 million by the Los Angeles Lakers, as part of the four-year, $72 million contract he signed in 2016.
He will be looking for another contract as free agency looms near. Even if he doesn’t get one, his other hustle has him set for a great second career.
“I don’t think anyone has invested in real estate to this scale and level of sophistication while they are still an active player,” Gross says. “Most people wait until they are finished. Luol is going to hit the ground running.”