LeBron James’ media group, others sued for $33 million over ‘More Than An Athlete’ phrase

LeBron James’ media group, Uninterrupted, and several others are being sued by a Maryland youth group for its use of the phrase “More Than An Athlete,” according to ESPN.

The youth group is seeking “$33 million and injunctive relief,” per the report, which would require others to stop using the phrase. They named Uninterrupted, ESPN, Nike and the creators of the NBA 2K video game series in the lawsuit for using the phrase.

According to ESPN, Game Plan Inc. said it applied to trademark the phrase “I Am More Than An Athlete” in 2016 and used the phrase on shirts at a Washington Wizards game in 2017. A group of players wore the shirts for a photo with Wizards guard John Wall before the game against the Cleveland Cavaliers — James’ former team. 

The group, per the report, was awarded the trademark for the phrase with their logo on June 5, 2018. 

James started using the phrase in 2018, and it quickly expanded to appear on Nike clothing, his ESPN series and the NBA 2K video game. He first used it shortly after Fox’s Laura Ingraham said on her show that James should “shut up and dribble” rather than get involved in politics or other non-sports related topics after he and Kevin Durant slammed President Donald Trump in an interview ahead of the All-Star Game that year. Naturally, her comments didn’t go over well with James or countless other athletes.

James posted a photo to Instagram with the phrase “I Am More Than An Athlete” after Ingraham’s comments, and used the hashtag “#wewillnotshutupanddribble.”

ESPN did not comment on the lawsuit in its report, however Uninterrupted did release a statement:

“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.”

A youth group in Maryland is suing LeBron James’ media group over the phrase “More Than An Athlete.” (AP/David Zalubowski)

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