Many people hold special relationships with their vehicles, whether it be sentimental value, reliability, or pride. But when people become celebrities and stars, their lives, as well as their vehicles go through drastic changes.
We often associate rich stars with glamorous vehicles and over-the-top lifestyles. For one special NBA player, however, it isn’t about the stardom. For Kawhi Leonard, it’s all about the game and nothing else. And nothing is more humble than the relationship Leonard has with his old high school vehicle.
A humble Tahoe for a humble athlete
Kawhi Leonard went to San Diego State University and was drafted to the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs for the 2011 season, according to ESPN. After leaving the Spurs in 2018, he played for the Toronto Raptors, where he helped lead the team to the 2019 Championship.
He’s been named Finals MVP and Defensive Player of the Year twice. Most recently he joined the Los Angeles Clippers as a free agent. Leonard is also well-known for his quiet and modest nature, as well as his private and calm personal life. He’s not interested in social media, celebrity status, or even fancy cars.
And even though Leonard is one of the best players in the NBA, he isn’t ashamed to be practical. During an interview with Sports Illustrated in March 2016, Leonard stated that he still drove around the same, “rehabbed,” 1997 Chevrolet Tahoe that he had been driving since high school.
Since working at his family’s car wash, the Tahoe hasn’t had any upgrades either, except for maintenance. And after signing a five-year, $94 million contract, it’s a true testament to the NBA star’s down-to-earth attitude.
According to CNBC, he’s nicknamed the no-frills Tahoe the “Gas Guzzler,” though he probably isn’t too concerned with affording the fuel. He first started driving it as a teen living in Southern California.
When asked why he was still driving the Tahoe after making millions, he simply replied that “it runs” and “it’s paid off.” This response is one that most people around the country can relate to. The four-door Chevy Tahoe LS has no added options and has an estimated worth of around $1,390. The combination of Leonard’s practicality and modesty makes him one of the most down-to-earth and popular athletes today.
Kawhi Leonard’s income has changed, but he hasn’t
Even with an estimated worth of $35 million, Kawhi Leonard has remained a down-to-earth athlete. According to The Street, he’s earned more than $84 million from his nine seasons with the NBA and more than $23 million for the 2019 season alone. When he claimed he was still driving the “Gas Guzzler,” he had just earned $16 million for his season with the Spurs.
Unlike other professional athletes of his caliber, Leonard does not spend money recklessly. Instead, he often gives back to the community and gives himself a monthly allowance. According to The Drive, he’s had quite a few endorsements, like one from Nike that expired in 2018, as well as sponsorship from New Balance.
In a true show of his frugality, Leonard reportedly felt panicked after losing coupons for Wingstop, the chicken wing chain that signed him for a celebrity endorsement. But luckily, the company sent him more coupons.
Not to worry, Leonard does spend some of his money. He reportedly bought himself a Porsche after feeling pressure from some friends. According to GM Authority, he also bought a home in his local area of San Diego, California for $13.3 million.
This is a testament to his humble heart and special relationship with his car. Just think, that million-dollar home includes a garage where a 1997 Tahoe sits in the lap of luxury.