Gary Payton Net Worth 2024, Biography, Age, Height

By Alice Moreno

Gary Dwayne Payton, born on July 23, 1968, in Oakland, California, is a retired American basketball player known as one of the greatest point guards in basketball history. Nicknamed “The Glove” for his exceptional defensive skills, he had a 13-year tenure with the Seattle SuperSonics. He played for several other teams, including the Milwaukee Bucks, Los Angeles Lakers, Boston Celtics, and Miami Heat. Gary holds franchise records in assists and steals with the SuperSonics and earned an NBA championship with the Heat in 2006.

With a height of 6 ft 4 in and weighing 190 lb, Gary, who shoots right, debuted on November 3, 1990, after being the 2nd overall pick in the 1st round of the 1990 draft by the Seattle SuperSonics. Throughout his 17-year career, he achieved impressive averages of 16.3 points, 3.9 rebounds, and 6.7 assists per game. His net worth of $50 million is attributed to his career earnings and endorsements, including a notable deal with Nike.

Honoring his outstanding contributions to basketball, Gary was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2013. Additionally, in October 2021, he was named to the NBA 75th Anniversary Team, affirming his legacy in the sport.

Quick Facts About Gary Payton

NameGary Payton
Full NameGary Dwayne Payton
NicknameThe Glove
Birth55 (July 23, 1968)
BirthplaceOakland, California, U.S.
Weight190 lb (86 kg)
Height6 ft 4 in (1.93 m)
ProfessionAmerican Basketball Player (retd.)
Debut DateNovember 3, 1990
Draft1990: 1st round, 2nd overall pick (Seattle SuperSonics)
PositionPoint Guard
Jersey Number2, 20
Experience17 Years
Net Worth$50 Million
Career Earnings$104,678,207
FatherAl Payton
MotherAnnie Payton
BrotherBrandon Payton
Marital StatusDivorced
Ex WifeMonique James

Gary Payton Biography

Gary Payton, born on July 23, 1968, in Oakland, California, is a retired American basketball player known for his impressive defensive skills, earning him the nickname “The Glove.” He debuted on November 3, 1990, and played as a point guard, mainly for the Seattle SuperSonics. He stands 6 ft 4 in and weighs 190 lb. Known for his mental toughness developed in Oakland, he was the first point guard to win the NBA Defensive Player of the Year award, holding this unique status until Marcus Smart won in 2022. He was a nine-time NBA All-Star and All-NBA Team member and shares the record for the most NBA All-Defensive First Team selections with Michael Jordan, Kevin Garnett, and Kobe Bryant. Besides, he has been noted for his durability, missing only 25 games in his 17-year career.

Gary was known for his aggressive and volatile personality early in his career but evolved into a respected leader and mentor, with players like Shaquille O’Neal and Antoine Walker enjoying playing alongside him. His leadership extended to his stints in Los Angeles, Boston, and Miami. Despite not being a particularly strong shooter, he was highly effective offensively, leveraging his physicality and skill at posting up his opponents. Payton was renowned for his defense and clutch performances during the Miami Heat’s 2006 championship run.

With his comprehensive skills, Payton is considered amongst the greatest point guards, compared favorably to the likes of Magic Johnson, Isiah Thomas, and John Stockton. His defensive prowess and offensive contributions place him amongst the all-time greats in the NBA, with players like Alvin Robertson and Michael Cooper showing statistical similarities.

ff the court, his family includes his parents, Al and Annie Payton. He has a brother named Brandon Payton. His marital journey led to a divorce, and he is the father of four children. Among them is Gary Payton II, who has also pursued a career in professional basketball. With a career spanning 17 years and an impressive track record, Payton’s contributions to the game are undeniable.

Gary Payton Net Worth

Gary Payton Net Worth

Gary Payton, a former American basketball pro, has a net worth of $50 million. He played for the Seattle SuperSonics for 13 years. Throughout his career, he earned about $104 million in salary.

Beyond his basketball earnings, Payton also made money from brand endorsements. These deals have reportedly brought in millions of dollars annually. Thus, his total wealth combines his basketball salary and endorsement deals.

Estimated Career Earnings

1993-94ALL NBA (3RD)$2,383,000$2,383,000
1994-95ALL NBA (2ND)$2,583,300$2,583,300
1995-96ALL NBA (2ND)$2,783,000$2,783,000
1996-97ALL NBA (2ND)$10,212,000$10,212,000
1997-98ALL NBA (1ST)$10,514,688$10,514,688
1998-99ALL NBA (2ND)$8,715,000$8,715,000
1999-00ALL NBA (1ST)$11,020,473$11,020,473
2000-01ALL NBA (3RD)$12,200,000$12,200,000
2001-02ALL NBA (2ND)$12,926,493$12,926,493
Est. Earnings (17 seasons)$104,678,207$104,678,207
SEA12 seasons$79,088,954$79,088,954
MIL1 seasons$12,636,117$12,636,117
LAL1 seasons$4,917,000$4,917,000
ATL1 seasons$5,408,700$5,408,700
BOS1 seasons$310,588$310,588
MIA2 seasons$2,316,848$2,316,848

Source: Spotrac-cash-earnings

Gary Payton Early Life

Gary Payton was born and raised in Oakland, California, where he showcased his basketball talent at Skyline High School. His high school years also saw him play alongside future NBA player Greg Foster. However, Payton faced academic challenges during his sophomore year, rendering him ineligible to play. With encouragement from his father, he refocused on his studies and returned to the game.

In 1986, he joined Oregon State University in Corvallis for college basketball, though he had once considered attending The University of Texas at El Paso. At Oregon State, Payton made a significant mark, earning numerous accolades. By his senior year in 1989–90, he was recognized as the nation’s best college basketball player. His achievements at Oregon State include being a consensus All-American, three-time All-Pac-10 selection, and the Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year and conference Freshman of the Year in 1987. His dedication and prowess on the court saw him inducted into OSU’s Sports Hall of Fame in 1996.

Gary Payton Career

Gary Payton Career

Gary Payton began his NBA journey with the Seattle SuperSonics, selected as the second overall pick in the 1990 draft. During his debut season, Payton made an impression by recording 8-point-assist double-doubles, setting a record for any SuperSonics rookie. He averaged 7.2 points, 3.0 rebounds, 6.4 assists, and 2.0 steals per game in his first year. In his sophomore year, Payton achieved 2 triple-doubles, tying with Slick Watts and Nate McMillan for achieving this in a season. This season saw him average 9.4 points, 3.6 rebounds, and 6.2 assists per game.

Over his 12½ seasons with the SuperSonics, Payton established himself as a top point guard. Teaming up with Shawn Kemp, they became the iconic “Sonic Boom” duo. He earned nine consecutive All-NBA team selections and was a part of the NBA All-Defensive First Team nine times between 1994-2002. 

In 1996, he became the first point guard to win the NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award. That same year, under coach George Karl, the SuperSonics reached the NBA Finals but fell to Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls. Although his time with the SuperSonics was successful, Payton’s relationship with the team’s new owner, Howard Schultz, in 2001 soured. This tension led to Payton missing the first training day in 2002 and Schultz’s subsequent decision to trade him.

In 2003, Gary Payton was traded from the Seattle SuperSonics to the Milwaukee Bucks, averaging 19.6 points and 7.4 assists in the remaining 28 games. In the playoffs, the Bucks faced the New Jersey Nets and lost in six games, with Payton leading in scoring and assists. As a free agent, Payton joined the Los Angeles Lakers that same year, hoping for an NBA Championship. Despite struggles with the team’s offensive system and injuries to teammates Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant, Payton played all 82 games, averaging 14.6 points. The Lakers reached the NBA Finals but were defeated by the Detroit Pistons. In 2004, the Lakers traded Payton to the Boston Celtics.

In 2005, Gary Payton was traded to the Atlanta Hawks but was quickly waived, leading him to rejoin the Boston Celtics, where he played 77 games, averaging 11.3 points per game. The Celtics clinched the Atlantic Division but lost to the Indiana Pacers in the playoffs’ first round. Later that year, Payton signed with the Miami Heat, reuniting with former teammates Antoine Walker and Shaquille O’Neal. He played a crucial role in the 2006 playoffs, making key shots that helped Miami secure their first NBA title. 

In 2006, Payton re-signed with the Heat and achieved significant milestones, moving up in NBA all-time lists for games played, minutes played, and points scored.

Gary Payton and Michael Jordan had a renowned rivalry, especially during the 1996 NBA Finals. Both were known for their defensive skills and trash-talking. Despite their different positions, Payton’s physical attributes made him a good match against Jordan. 

In the 1996 Finals, Seattle coach George Karl assigned Payton to defend Jordan. While the Bulls won the series, Seattle’s defense, led by Payton, restricted Jordan significantly. Jordan scored lower than his average, with Payton holding him to some of his career-low Finals scores. Commentator Bill Walton stated that Payton “outplayed” Jordan in the latter half of the series. The Sonics held Jordan’s Bulls to their lowest-scoring quarter in any NBA Finals. Michael Jordan never scored fewer than his 22 points in Game 6 of that series in any other Finals game. Payton later emphasized the importance of standing up to Jordan’s aggressive style.

Gary Payton Jersey Number

TEAMSYEARJersey Number
Seattle SuperSonics19912
Milwaukee Bucks200320
Los Angeles Lakers200420
Boston Celtics200520
Miami Heat2006–200720

Gary Payton Career Stats

Career Regular1,3351,23335.316.
Career Playoffs15412935.6143.

Source: Spotrac-statistics


Nov 1 2007Retired from Professional Basketball
Sep 6 2006Signed a contract with Miami (MIA)
Sep 22 2005Signed a contract with Miami (MIA)
Mar 4 2005Signed a contract with Boston (BOS)
Mar 1 2005Waived by Atlanta (ATL)
Feb 24 2005Traded to Atlanta (ATL) from Boston (BOS) with Tom Gugliotta, Michael Stewart and 2006 1st round pick (#21 – traded) for Antoine Walker
Aug 6 2004Traded to Boston (BOS) from Los Angeles (LAL) with Rick Fox and 2006 1st round pick (#21 – traded) for Chucky Atkins, Jumaine Jones and Chris Mihm
Jun 24 2004Exercised $5.4 million Player Option with Los Angeles (LAL) for 2004-2005
Jul 16 2003Signed a 2 year $10.3 million contract with Los Angeles (LAL)
Feb 20 2003Traded to Milwaukee (MIL) from Seattle (SEA) with Desmond Mason for Ray Allen, Ronald Murray, Kevin Ollie and 2003 1st round pick (#14 Luke Ridnour)
Jul 23 1996Signed a 7 year contract with Seattle (SEA)
Oct 10 1990Signed a 6 year $13.5 million contract with Seattle (SEA)
Jun 27 1990Drafted by Seattle (SEA): Round 1 (#2 overall)

Source: Spotrac-transactions

Gary Payton Awards, Records, and Honors

Gary Payton, synonymous with excellence in basketball, has garnered many awards, honors, and recognitions throughout his famed career. Below are his outstanding achievements, highlighting his journey from a collegiate athlete to an NBA legend.

College Achievements

  • 1990: Consensus first-team All-American.
  • 1990: Pac-10 Player of the Year.
  • 1988-1990: 3× All-Pac-10.
  • 1990: At the time of his graduation from Oregon State University, Payton ranked third in all-time NCAA steals and second in all-time NCAA assists.
  • No. 20 retired by Oregon State Beavers.

NBA Achievements

  • 1991: NBA All-Rookie Second Team.
  • 1994–2002: 9× NBA All-Defensive First Team.
  • 1994–1998, 2000–2003: 9× NBA All-Star.
  • 1995–1997, 1999, 2002: 5× All-NBA Second Team.
  • 1996: NBA Defensive Player of the Year and NBA steals leader.
  • 1998, 2000: 2× All-NBA First Team.
  • 1994, 2001: 2× All-NBA Third Team.
  • 2006: NBA champion.
  • NBA 75th Anniversary Team.

Olympic and International Achievements

  • 1996: Gold medal – Atlanta Olympic Games, Team competition.
  • 1999: Gold medal – FIBA Americas Championship, San Juan, Team competition.
  • 1999: USA Basketball Male Athlete of the Year.
  • 2000: Gold medal – Sydney Olympic Games, Team competition.
  • 1987, 1989: Silver medal – FIBA U19 World Championship, Bormio, and FIBA Americas Championship, Mexico City, Team competition.

Special Recognitions and Rankings

  • 1999: Called “the greatest player in the world” by Charles Barkley.
  • 2000: The Seattle Mayor’s Office declared June 6, 2000, “Gary Payton Day”.
  • 2006: Ranked as the “best defender” by 48.1% of respondents in an poll.
  • 2006: In commemorating the NBA’s 60th anniversary, TNT selected Payton among the next 10 players to be added to the list of 50 Greatest Players in NBA History.
  • 2008: Named the best #2 draft pick in NBA history during the “lottery era” by
  • 2013: Inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.

Records and Milestones

  • Held two streaks of 350+ consecutive games played: 354 consecutive games between January 16, 1992, and March 13, 1996, and 356 consecutive games between March 18, 1996, and January 17, 2001.
  • Ranked #6 all-time in All-Star game assists and #10 in All-Star game steals upon retirement.
  • Tied for #1 in All-Star game free throw percentage, having never missed a free throw in any of his 8 attempts.
  • Featured in the NBA’s 100 Greatest Plays; responsible for the 4th greatest play in the “Hustle” category and passed to Kemp in the NBA’s 5th greatest Alley Oop.

Media Features

  • Featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated six times: three times as the featured cover story in 1990, 1994, and 1996, and three times in a secondary role.
  • Appeared on the cover of SLAM two times – June 1998 and March 2003.

Overall Rankings

  • 2018: Ranked #39 on SLAM’s Top 100 NBA Players of All Time.
  • Ranked #10 on ESPN’s Top 10 NBA Point Guards of All Time.

Gary Payton Jersey Number

Gary Payton played for several teams in the NBA, but it’s worth mentioning that he consistently wore jersey number 20, especially during his time with the Seattle SuperSonics. Starting in 1991 with the SuperSonics, he wore the number 2 jersey. However, from 1992 to 2003, he donned the number 20 for the team. This trend continued with other teams he played for, such as the Milwaukee Bucks, Los Angeles Lakers, Boston Celtics, and Miami Heat.

After the Sonics relocated to Oklahoma City, Payton clarified he wanted his retired jersey number to stay in Seattle. He valued his time and success there. While the Thunder have not made official statements about the jersey, they have not issued number 20 to any player since moving. This suggests respect for Payton’s wishes and legacy.

Gary Payton Off The Court

After his NBA days, Gary Payton took to broadcasting. He became a studio analyst for NBA TV during the 2008-09 season and later worked with Fox Sports Live in 2013. He even gave weekly picks for the 2016 NFL season with Sports Betting Dime. However, he was replaced by Kevin McHale for the 2009-10 NBA season.

Payton also appeared in movies like “Eddie” and “Like Mike” and had a role in “The Breaks.” He was on shows like “The Jamie Foxx Show” and “Onion SportsDome”. He’s featured in the documentary “Sonicsgate,” advocating for the return of the Seattle SuperSonics. He even gave an impactful five-word acceptance speech when the documentary won an award: “Bring back our Seattle SuperSonics.”

Outside of entertainment, Payton is actively working to bring the NBA back to Seattle. Moreover, he owns and promotes CannaSports, a cannabis line that offers athletes a safer alternative for pain relief.

Gary Payton Endorsements

Gary Payton collaborated with Nike during his athletic career. He became a featured athlete for the brand, showcasing the special player edition Nike Air Thrill Flights. 

Later, Nike introduced two signature shoes in Payton’s name: the Nike Zoom GP III and the GP IV. The GP III was revealed at the 2001 NBA All-Star Game in Washington, DC. It was a part of Nike’s distinguished MORF series.

Gary Payton Family

Gary Payton comes from the family of Al and Annie Payton. He is not the only one in his family to pursue a basketball career.

His brother, Brandon Payton, is also a professional basketball player. Brandon played in the 2000s, showcasing the family’s strong ties to the sport.

Gary Payton Wife and Children

Gary Payton married Monique James on July 26, 1997, after dating for 12 years since 1985. However, the couple divorced in 2012. They have three children: Gary II, Julian, and Raquel. They made their homes in Oakland and Las Vegas.

Gary II has pursued a professional basketball career, playing for the Milwaukee Bucks, Los Angeles Lakers, Boston Celtics, and Golden State Warriors. At the Warriors, Gary II secured his first NBA Championship. 

Besides the children he shares with Monique, Gary has another son named Gary Payton Jr. from a different relationship. Gary Payton, Jr. and his siblings Julian and Raquel have demonstrated qualities influenced by their father’s growth and legacy.

Gary Payton Personal Life

Gary Payton had relationships with two women early in his NBA career. While dating Gary II’s mother, whom he met in high school, he also had a relationship with another lady. Interestingly, both women gave birth to sons in the same year. Both mothers wanted to name their sons after Gary. Consequently, he suggested naming one Gary Jr. and the other Gary II.

Payton has a unique attribute when it comes to hand dominance. Though naturally left-handed, he shot with his right hand while playing basketball.

Additionally, in his personal life, Gary Payton has been romantically linked with Lisa Raye McCoy.

Gary Payton Education

Gary Payton grew up in Oakland, California, where he attended Skyline High School. While there, he played alongside Greg Foster, who became an NBA player. However, in his sophomore year, Payton faced academic challenges. His grades dropped significantly, making him declared academically ineligible to play basketball. But with encouragement from his father, he refocused on his studies, eventually regaining his eligibility to play.

In 1986, Payton moved north to pursue higher education at Oregon State University in Corvallis. While he initially considered attending The University of Texas at El Paso, he later chose Oregon State over UTEP and St. John’s. During his tenure at Oregon State from 1986 to 1990, Payton distinguished himself, becoming one of the university’s all-time great basketball players.

Gary Payton Philanthropy

Gary Payton has a long history of philanthropic endeavors. In 1996, he established The Gary Payton Foundation, which offers safe recreational spaces and encourages underprivileged youth in Oakland to remain in school. The foundation is also known for its annual charity basketball game. Furthermore, Payton has a special connection with the East Oakland Youth Development Center (EOYDC), a place he frequented during his youth. In a significant gesture, he donated $100,000 in 2001 to renovate EOYDC’s gym.

Payton’s charitable actions also extend beyond Oakland. Along with his wife, Monique, he has been instrumental in raising funds for HIV awareness. He has generously supported the Boys & Girls Club of America and the Make-a-Wish Foundation and provided Miami Heat tickets to needy children. During the Christmas season, Payton has been known to give back generously. For instance, in 2003, he offered 10 families from the Ronald McDonald House a $100 shopping spree each at FAO Schwarz. Two years later, he treated 60 children to $100 shopping sprees at Toys-R-Us as part of the Voices For Children program.

In addition to his direct charitable activities, Payton has used various platforms to raise awareness and funds for good causes. He authored a children’s book 1999 called “Confidence Counts” to emphasize the significance of self-confidence. Furthermore, during the 1998 NBA lockout, he hosted a charity-focused radio show in Seattle, playing hip-hop music. His contributions to society earned him a spot on The Sporting News’ “Good Guys in Sports” list in 1999.


Gary Payton’s legacy extends beyond his impressive stats as an NBA player. Born in Oakland and showing promise from high school, he left an indelible mark in professional basketball. Known as “The Glove” for his exceptional defense, Payton set records, garnered numerous accolades, and inspired many, including his son, Gary Payton II. 

Off the court, he further distinguished himself through his commitment to philanthropy and community service. Truly, Payton stands as one of the NBA’s greats for his skills and contributions to the larger community.


Why does Gary Payton have 2 sons named Gary?

Gary Payton Sr. actually explained that he had the two kids by two different women who both wanted to name their sons Gary Payton. So he deemed one Jr and named the other the II.

Did Gary Payton ever win MVP?

Payton finished as high as third in MVP voting and would lead the Sonics to their best record in franchise history at 64-18 in 1996 when he led the team to their first championship appearance since their first and only title win in 1979.

What team did Gary Payton retire with?

Always a great passer, Payton averaged over 8 assists per game from 1994-2003. Payton retired as the Sonics franchise leader in points, assists, and steals.

Alice Moreno
About the author

Hi, I'm Alice Moreno. I've been writing about celebrities since 2005. I love sharing stories about famous people and finding out how much they're worth. I studied Journalism and enjoy digging for facts to make sure everything I write is true.

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