The City of Angels lies at the confluence of fame, luxury, and professional sports. From baseball star Joe DiMaggio’s honeymoon home with Marilyn Monroe, to boxing legend Muhammad Ali’s former Hancock Park mansion, the world’s top athletes have long enjoyed owning residences in Los Angeles.
WHY LOS ANGELES APPEALS TO HIGH-PROFILE PLAYERS
Greater Los Angeles has had a long love affair with sports. When traditional bull and bear fighting became outlawed in 1860, Angelenos turned their attention to baseball, with the first few matches sparking an obsession with modern sports. Today, there are about a dozen major league professional teams as well as numerous amateur and collegiate sports teams throughout Greater Los Angeles.
From the robust business climate to the cosmopolitan lifestyle, there are many reasons why Greater LA is the obvious choice for elite athletes:
A Strong Sports Culture
Los Angeles notably has two NBA, NFL, and MLB teams — not surprising since this is the place to be for sports owners and investors. Interestingly, there are also historical reasons why LA has two teams for these major sports leagues. In 1884, the entire area was bisected into north and south by a railroad line, with residents on each side of the tracks having their own team. Over the next century, several teams moved to the city as well. The NFL Chargers and Rams shared the same stadium before moving to their own stadiums in 1993.
Greater LA has a large population of fervent sports fans, which presents many opportunities for business. Having multiple teams makes it possible for sports owners to cater to a larger audience. The sheer number of teams ensures that everyone with an interest in sports will have someone to root for, and it creates a vibrant sports community where there is diversity and healthy competition.
While the Los Angeles Lakers is the most popular sports team in Greater LA according to odds comparison experts at Sidelines.io, for example, the Los Angeles Clippers also has a dedicated fan base.
Then there’s the weather. Greater LA has a Mediterranean climate with warm and mostly dry weather. As a matter of fact, LA is the 15th sunniest city in the United States with 275 days of sunshine on average. July is typically the sunniest month and brings about 364 hours of sunshine. LA has only gotten a light dusting of snow four times between 2000 and 2023, according to the almanac.
Since snow and rainfall are minimal, Los Angeles athletes can train and participate in a wide range of outdoor activities year-round. The pleasant weather also makes it more enjoyable to explore Greater LA and its iconic beaches and walking trails.
Plenty of Opportunities in Media and Entertainment
Living in LA comes with prospects of lucrative TV and movie offers for many pro athletes. Hollywood is the cradle of the American film industry. There are also numerous media companies and video production studios throughout Greater LA, giving athletes the opportunity to meet media executives and casting directors.
Entering mainstream film and television is one way for athletes to grow their following and expand their careers beyond sports. There are many athletes who have successfully crossed over to entertainment — Michael Jordan and Shaquille O’Neal had their own movies in the 1990s. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson became a household name with films like “Black Adam” and “Red Notice” but got his start as a pro wrestler in the WWF. MMA fighters Gina Carano and Ronda Rousey have landed movie roles and modeling stints outside of the octagon.
In addition to acting, many former athletes have become successful television hosts and commentators. Retired NFL player Akbar Gbajabiamila works with CBS while former NFL stars LaVar Arrington, Plaxico Burress, and TJ Houshmandzadeh have a podcast on Fox Sports Radio.
Los Angeles athletes who’d rather focus on the game can still benefit from living close to the entertainment industry even if they don’t want to pursue an acting career. Greater LA is home to many talk shows where athletes can appear as guests and promote their upcoming games and matches. These programs give athletes a platform to tell their story and create more public awareness around their chosen sport. Documentaries like “Free Solo” and “The Price of Gold” have also created wider public interest in professional rock climbing and competitive figure skating.
Topnotch Training Facilities and Resources
LA is hosting the 2028 Summer Olympics and 2028 Paralympic Games, proving that its sports venues and training facilities are truly world-class. LA is the first North American city to host the Summer Olympics three times, having previously hosted the event in 1932 and 1984. From fencing to beach volleyball, Greater LA ‘s facilities can accommodate a wide range of sports.
The Downtown Sports Park will welcome droves of sports fans and athletes across several venues for the 2028 games, including the STAPLES Center (also known as the Crypto Arena), which has hosted basketball, boxing, and UFC matches; the Los Angeles Coliseum, which is known for hosting collegiate football games and first SuperMotocross World Championship; and Peacock Theater (formerly the Microsoft Theater), a 1,700-seat live event venue.
In addition to state-of-the-art arenas, Los Angeles athletes have access to many sports camps, gymnasiums, outdoor spaces, and college facilities for athletes looking to up their game. Pro boxers Miguel Cotto, Manny Pacquaio, and Devin Haney have thrown punches at the Wild Card Boxing Club while Paralympic track and field medalist Blake Leeper loves to train at the Los Angeles Athletic Club (LAAC) and Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook. The University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Student Activities Center and Beverly Hills High School Upper East and West Gyms are popular training and pick-up games spots among NBA players.
When the going gets tough, athletes can come to the Cedars-Sinai Kerlan-Jobe Institute and UCLA Sports Medicine Center. These medical centers have surgeons, therapists, and nutritionists specializing in sports-related injuries and rehabilitation.
Athletes who are still waiting for their big break can approach sports mentoring organizations, youth programs, and peer support groups throughout Greater LA. There are many nonprofits that offer guidance to young or struggling athletes as well as individuals who want to make meaningful connections in the sports industry.
Exceptional Lifestyle, Amenities, and Social Scene
It’s no secret that pro athletes work hard and play hard. With an array of shops, restaurants, and nightclubs, there’s plenty to do off-court in Greater LA. From sushi at Nobu to drinks at Soho House, athletes can blow off steam at numerous high-end establishments across town.
Trendy sneaker stores like BAPE, RIF LA, and Sneakertopia are popular with ballers like Kyrie Irving and Troy Daniels while family-oriented athletes like Giannis Antetokounmpo and the late Kobe Bryant have been spotted in Disneyland Park, roughly 25 miles from downtown Los Angeles.
While there’s no shortage of nightclubs with bottle service and live DJ sets, the hottest parties in Los Angeles are the ones that people throw right in their own homes. Let’s take a look at the sprawling mansions of the sports elite next.
THE OPULENT HOMES OF WELL-KNOWN SPORTS FIGURES
- In 2020, LeBron James purchased Katherine Hepburn’s former residence in Beverly Hills after signing a $97.1 million two-year contract extension with the LA Lakers. The complex features a 13,000-square-foot Spanish Mission-style mansion, outdoor pool, and tennis courts. However, it has also been reported that LBJ wants to tear down to make way for a custom home. He has initiated legal procedures to secure building permits for the 2.5-acre property.
It remains to be seen what LBJ plans to build on the plot, but if his Brentwood mansion provides any indication of his taste, the neighborhood may see a similarly contemporary-style home with pristine interiors.
James’ son, Bronny, goes to the University of Southern California (USC), which is just a short drive from the home. The NBA’s all-time leading scorer has also confirmed that he is returning for the 21st season and that he is not retiring from the sport during the offseason.
- Kobe Bryant spent the entirety of his long and illustrious career with the LA Lakers. While the late basketball star resided in Newport Beach with his family, his legacy lives on in LA real estate — hedge funder Jeffrey Feinberg splashed out $44 million for a 54,885-square-foot mansion with a Black Mamba-inspired half-basketball court.
The custom-designed court features Kobe’s jersey number, 24, and the purple-and-gold color scheme of the LA Lakers. The likeness of other basketball legends, such as Michael Jordan, Shaquille O’Neal, and LeBron James, are emblazoned on the sidelines. The court is situated on a floating deck with sweeping views of the LA skyline.
Other amenities on the 1.2-acre property include a private theater, three-hole putting green, and a pool and spa. The contemporary California-style mansion also has distinctive features such as a large double-sided aquarium and a rooftop garden with cannabis plants and breathtaking views of the Getty Museum.
- Anthony Davis paid $31 million for a stunning Tuscan-style estate in Bel Air Crest after getting traded from the New Orleans Pelicans and leading the LA Lakers to the NBA championships in 2020. The massive property features a 20,000-square-foot mansion, swimming pool, tennis court, manicured gardens, and eight bedrooms.
The center offloaded his 2.33-acre Westlake Village estate for $6.6 million before upgrading to his newest mansion. Things are looking good for AD, who has reportedly signed a three-year contract extension with the LA Lakers for a whopping $186 million in August 2023.
- Nick Young moved to LA in 2014 with Aussie rapper and then-fiancée Iggy Azalea. The pair bought a $3.4 million property from former Disney star Selena Gomez. The 6,630-square-foot Tarzana mansion features a media room, basketball court, swimming pool, and outdoor kitchen and fire pit.
Young and Azalea listed the property for a cool $3.6 million following their split in 2017. They would have been neighbors with former NFL player Tom Brady and his ex-wife, model Gisele Bundchen, who sold their mansion to music mogul Dr. Dre.
- Dwayne Wade moved to LA with wife, actor Gabrielle Union, following his retirement with the Miami Heat in 2019. D-Wade and Union paid $17.9 million for a 22,000-square-foot mansion in the Hidden Hills. The property features a zero-edge pool, fitness sauna, private home theater, and wine tasting room.
- Pro athletes aren’t the only ones making waves in the real estate market. In 2020, sports exec Jeanie Buss purchased a four-bedroom oceanfront townhome in Playa del Rey. The beachfront community features lavish amenities, including a pool, spa, and gym.
Known as one of the most influential women in the sports business, Buss is the president and controlling owner of the LA Lakers. She reportedly paid $2.6 million for the 2,200-square-foot duplex and has owned several other properties in Greater LA, including a condo in Playa Vista.
- Endeavor CEO Ari Emanuel bought a mansion in Beverly Hills for $27.5 million in 2022. The four-bedroom mansion was built in 1925 and was previously owned by actor Barrie Chase. Spanning over 7,900 square feet, the property features a poolside pavilion and two guest cottages. Endeavor is the parent company of the UFC and the WWE, which were acquired from previous owners Dana White and Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta for $4 billion in 2016.
THE INTERSECTION OF SPORTS AND LUXURY LIVING
2023 is shaping up to be an exciting year in sports and luxury with several high-profile deals and announcements. Here are some of this year’s highlights:
- The NBA Free Agency Season saw former Gonzaga star Rui Hachimura re-sign with the LA Lakers for a three-year, $51 million deal and D’Angelo Russell, for a $37 million two-year contract in July 2023. Russell Westbrook also re-signed a two-year, $8 million deal with the LA Clippers.
- The NBA has announced plans to offer Shared Reality, or live game content in 8K projection for an immersive experience, to sports fans. The NBA has entered a multi-year partnership with tech company Cosm. The NBA’s live game content will become available in 2024 and will include a live audience, sports merchandise, and food and beverages at forthcoming Cosm venues.
- Eduardo Rodríguez has turned down a transfer to the LA Dodgers, invoking a no-trade clause that covers 10 teams after negotiations for “contractual enhancements” fell through. The Venezuelan pitcher will remain with the Detroit Tigers for a five-year, $77 million contract.
- Angel City FC announced its final 2023 roster in time for the season opener with NJ/NY Gotham FC in March. The club saw some of its players, particularly Angel City FC defender and New Zealand women’s national team captain Ali Riley, advance in the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
- Former New York Knicks Director of Performance and Drink Barcode CEO Mubarak Malik has secured listings with upscale LA supermarket chain and certified organic retailer Erewhon Market. Malik left a career with the NBA to bring his plant-based performance drink brand to the market.
His performance-enhancing beverage company won the 2023 LA Startup Showdown at the SoFi Stadium and has raised $2.2 million in its latest funding round with several celebrities and venture capitalists, including NBA player Maurice Harkless and former Destiny’s Child member Kelly Rowland.
- Streetwear label Born X Raised and the LA Dodgers have released a limited edition line of ready-to-wear items. The mid-season capsule includes hoodies, crewneck sweaters, and graphic tees. The LA-based fashion label has partnered with the MLB team over several seasons, celebrating its late founder Chris “Spanto” Printup’s ties with his hometown baseball team. The collection’s campaign was shot in the Pico Sports Arena.
INVEST IN LOS ANGELES REAL ESTATE
Many experts consider Los Angeles real estate a good long-term investment. With Los Angeles athletes constantly getting traded, retiring, or building their careers, investors can rely on a steady flow of high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs) and ultra-high-net-worth individuals (UHNWIs) to the area. This creates demand for upscale rentals with pro athletes and sports execs who’d rather test the water before committing to a home purchase.
If you’re looking for a suitable investment property in Greater Los Angeles, work with a knowledgeable agent who will help you navigate the housing market. Luxury real estate expert Joyce Rey has worked with numerous athletes, celebrities, and Fortune 500 executives in her decades-long career. Known as “The Grand Dame of Real Estate,” she has facilitated record-setting real estate transactions throughout Southern California and has generated over $6 billion in sales.
Whether you’re looking for a real estate investment, a vacation home, or a permanent residence, let an expert guide you through the search process. Call Joyce Rey and her team at 310.285.7529 or send them an email here. You may also send your inquiry through the contact form below.