The Pre-Basketball Jobs of Professional Athletes

Becoming a professional athlete takes hard work, dedication, sweat, and resolve. And some money – after all, a man’s got to eat, dress, and sleep somewhere, right? Many of today’s professionals in the NBA were drafted out of high school or college, beginning their professional careers immediately after finishing their studies. Some of them, in turn, didn’t have the luxury of dedicating all their time to their athletic endeavors they had to divide their time between sports and earning an income.

Luckily, these players didn’t settle for non-athletic jobs for casual fans they worked their way to basketball stardom or just spend their time on the snabba casino.

Alonzo Mourning

Alonzo Mourning spent 15 years in the NBA, playing for teams like the Miami Heat (twice), the Charlotte Hornets, and the New Jersey Nets between 1992 and 2008. The 7-time NBA All-Star was not always an athlete at least not full-time. Upon joining the Georgetown Hoyas and before being drafted in the NBA, he did quite a few odd jobs to earn some money. Aside from working in a car dealership (where the 6-foot-10 athlete certainly stood out of the crowd), he worked at a drapery shop where he made good use of his height hanging curtains.

Wilt Chamberlain

Basketball legend Wilt Chamberlain started his professional career outside the NBA, joining the Harlem Globetrotters in 1958. In 1959, he turned pro, joining the Philadelphia Warriors for six years, then after a brief stint with the 76ers joining the Los Angeles Lakers. He is widely considered one of the greatest basketball players of all time, with several NBA records tied to his name.

Before starting to play basketball seriously, the 7-foot-1 Wilt worked as a bellhop at the Kutsher’s Hotel and Country Club by day and played at the resort’s basketball team by night. And one of his teammates was none other than Red Auerbach who would later become the legendary coach of the Boston Celtics.

Chris Paul


Ten-time NBA All-Star and National Basketball Players Association President Chris Paul is currently playing for the Oklahoma City Thunder since last year. Before them, he spent time with the Houston Rockets, the LA Clippers, and the New Orleans Hornets, gathered countless accolades, won two Olympic gold medals, and was named the USA Basketball Male Athlete of the Year in 2004.

Before all that, Chris and his brother Charles spent their summers pumping gas at a service station owned by their grandfather, Nathanial Jones. While this may seem like a job below the rank of a world class athlete, Chris Paul remembers this time fondly he learned valuable life lessons during this time and considers his grandfather his best friend to this day.