LeBron James and his athlete empowerment brand UNINTERRUPTED are facing a $33 million lawsuit from a youth organization claiming James and the company stole their “I Am More Than An Athlete” slogan, TMZ reports.
LeBron began using the mantra back in 2018 after Fox News host Laura Ingraham infamously told him to "shut up and dribble." James responded by posting a picture on Instagram of a neon sign reading "I Am More Than An Athlete." Since then, the slogan has been used frequently by the 35-year-old athlete and UNINTERRUPTED, as they have gone on to sign deals with Nike, ESPN, and NBA 2K.
Game Plan, the Maryland-based non-profit suing James and UNINTERRUPTED, claims they have been using the slogan since 2016 and subsequently trademarked in 2018. The organization insists LeBron first became aware of the "I Am More Than An Athlete" mantra in 2017 when Game Plan staffers wore shirts with the slogan to a Washington Wizards game against James' team at the time, the Cleveland Cavaliers.
"The attendance at the game gave Game Plan tremendous exposure, as it was able to gain attention from John Wall in front of his peers including the (arguably) most famous athlete in the world, as a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers, at the time, LeBron James," the company said in a statement.
Game Plan ultimately claims they own the rights to the "I Am More Than An Athlete" slogan, leaving them entitled to profits equalling no less than $33 million. The lawsuit targets UNINTERRUPTED, Nike, Disney, and Take-Two Interactive Software Inc.
In response to the suit, UNINTERRUPTED told TMZ Sports, "The complaint filed by Game Plan today is meritless and contains numerous factual inaccuracies. UNINTERRUPTED owns prior rights in and to the 'More Than An Athlete' trademark."