DREW Gooden had the opportunity to play in the NBA for 14 years and was also LeBron James’ teammate for four of those seasons.
And the retired NBA power forward, 41, is considered unrecognizable in retirement after being a successful businessman.
Gooden was drafted #4 by the Memphis Grizzlies in the 2002 NBA draft.
With a height of 1.80 m and a weight of 110 kg he played his best basketball alongside LeBron with the Cleveland Cavaliers from 2004 to 2007.
In all four seasons, Gooden averaged at least 10 points and eight rebounds per game, even averaging a career high of 14.4 ppg in 2004.
The Kansas product also made the playoffs each season with James.
But the Cavs sent Gooden to the Chicago Bulls in 2007.
He worked for five other teams until his final retirement in 2016.
Gooden finished his career with 8,653 points, 5,618 rebounds and 474 blocks.
However, in 2012 – four years before his retirement – Gooden began working on his career off the field.
The NBA veteran was interested in the hospitality industry, an industry he knew quite well.
Specifically, Gooden wanted to take over the chicken wing and fast food restaurant business.
He turned to former NBA stars turned businessmen Junior Bridgeman and Jamaal Mashburn for knowledge.
And in 2012, Gooden opened his first Wingstop in Altamonte Springs, Florida.
The Oakland, California native believes his “love” for Wingstop was what prompted him to choose the chain for his first business venture.
“From a customer’s point of view, I fell in love with the restaurant, it attracted me.” said Gooden.
“You always hear the horror stories about opening a restaurant and the statistics of success.
“Given the situation I found myself in, I thought I could beat all odds.”
Gooden is now retired and in negotiations to acquire an additional four Wingstop locations.
He also owns commercial properties throughout the Southeast, Napa Valley, California and the Bahamas.
Gooden is currently a presenter for NBC Sports Washington, having played for the Wizards for the last three seasons of his career.
And he enrolled in an executive education program at Columbia after graduating in 2016 with a communications degree from his Kansas alma mater.