Home » The Rise of Luol Deng: From Refugee to Business Mogul

The Rise of Luol Deng: From Refugee to Business Mogul

A look into NBA star Luol Deng’s business ventures, including his real estate empire company, D3N9

by Victor Adetimilehin

Luol Deng, a South Sudanese-British former professional basketball player, has made significant strides both on and off the basketball court. His journey from fleeing Sudan to  being selected by the Phoenix Suns in the first round of the 2004 NBA draft with the seventh overall pick and then becoming a two-time NBA All-Star and a British citizen bears witness to his resilient spirit and persistence attitude. Deng’s college days at Duke University, where he became the 10th freshman in Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) history to lead all freshmen in scoring, rebounding, and field goal percentage, paved the way for a fruitful NBA career, highlighted by his time with the Chicago Bulls and contributions to other teams like the Cleveland Cavaliers and Miami Heat.

Beyond his playing career, Deng has dedicated himself to the development of basketball in South Sudan, serving as the president of the South Sudan Basketball Federation and taking on coaching roles. His efforts are beyond just promoting the sport but also building a legacy that leverages his experiences for the growth and empowerment of young athletes in Africa. Deng’s transition from an NBA player to a mentor and leader in the basketball community showcases his commitment to making a lasting impact beyond the game of basketball.


D3N9, a real estate investment company founded by Luol Deng, showcases his expansive business ventures and astute investment strategies, with a portfolio valued at an estimated $125 million. Managed by David Gross as the Chief Investment Officer, D3N9’s investments span across hotels, resorts, condos, and apartment buildings globally, including significant stakes in the Virgin Las Vegas resort and a strategic move to acquire nearly 100 apartment units in Deng’s hometown of Baltimore. Additionally, Deng’s partnership with former Chicago Bulls teammate, Derrick Rose, in a Chicago investment encompasses 23 buildings with 354 apartments, demonstrating his extensive engagement in real estate across public and private markets, commodities, private equity, and venture capital. This multifaceted investment approach reflects Deng’s profound business acumen and his commitment to leveraging his wealth and network to build a diverse and impactful portfolio.


Luol Deng’s investment and influence in fostering basketball development in Africa, particularly through NBA Africa, is exemplified by the launch of the first Jr. NBA league in South Sudan in early 2024. This collaboration between NBA Africa, Stanbic Bank, and the Luol Deng Foundation signifies a landmark initiative aimed at making basketball accessible to the youth in Africa. With Deng’s active participation, this project not only highlights his investment in the sport’s growth but also his commitment to using basketball as a tool for social and economic development. The establishment of a new basketball court in Juba, in partnership with these organizations, provides a tangible foundation for this mission, offering a safe and structured environment for young athletes to sharpen their skills. Deng’s leadership and vision are critical in creating opportunities for the next generation of South Sudanese players, thereby continuing the legacy of basketball excellence in the region and embodying the transformative power of sports as a catalyst for change.


Luol Deng, even after retiring from his professional basketball career, demonstrated a keen insight into the evolving blend of sports, technology, and fan engagement by investing in PlayrMakr. This company, although out of business, operated a soccer gaming community platform with a mission to seamlessly connect soccer enthusiasts with their sporting heroes. Through its innovative platform, PlayrMakr offered a digital place where the global soccer community can unite, engage, and interact. This initiative facilitated a virtual gathering space for fans and players alike, enabling them to participate in online soccer games and activities. By aligning with PlayrMakr, Deng smartly positioned himself at the forefront of digital sports fan engagement, leveraging technology to foster a more interconnected and immersive soccer experience.


Luol Deng is listed as a speaker on All American Speakers, a top-rated speaker’s bureau and entertainment booking agency for corporate meetings and business events and also on Athlete Speakers, one of the largest sports marketing and athlete booking agencies in the United States of America. These platforms allows organizations to request booking information for Deng to appear at live or virtual events.

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