Kawhi Leonard Profile: Insight Into the Enigmatic NBA Superstar

This Kawhi Leonard profile provides detailed facts and insights into the NBA superstar. Over his eight years in the NBA, Kawhi Leonard is known as much for his literal answers and stoic personality as his stellar play on the court.

Leonard’s outstanding defensive skills and rebounding ability earned him the NBA Defensive Player of the Year twice, in 2015 and 2016. He also helped win NBA championships in 2014 and 2019, earning Finals MVP honors each time. The league recognized him on the All-NBA First Team in 2016 and 2017.

Let’s take a closer look at some facts and details about the NBA superstar, including his personal life, net worth, and family.

Kawhi Leonard Stats

Profession: Kawhi Leonard is a professional basketball player for the Los Angeles Clippers of the NBA.

Position: He plays the shooting guard/small forward position.

Born: He was born on June 29, 1991, in Los Angeles, California.

Age: Kawhi Leonard is 28 years old.

Height: He stands 6’ 7” tall.

Shoes: Kawhi Leonard wears size 14 shoes. Leonard signed a deal for over $5 million per year with New Balance, making him the highest-profile basketball player on the New Balance roster. In the commercial supporting the release of his signature shoe, the OMN1S, the media-shy Leonard didn’t speak a word.

Hands: His 11.25-inch hand size, as measured from thumb to pinkie finger, is 52% bigger than the average person.

Wingspan: Kawhi has a wingspan of 7’ 3”.

Weight: The two-way NBA star weighs 229 pounds.

Shoots: Kawhi shoots right-handed.

How many Championships rings does Kawhi Leonard have? Two. One with the San Antonio Spurs in 2014 and one with the Toronto Raptors in 2019.

Car He Drives: Apparently Leonard still drives his 1997 Chevy Tahoe which he had back in high school. It’s affectionately nicknamed, “Gas Guzzler.”



What are Kawhi Leonard’s nicknames?

Leonard is known as The Claw and The Hand for his exceptionally large hands and ball-hawking style of play. He’s also known as Board Man and Fun Guy (see video below).

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Kawhi Leonard background

High school

Leonard attended Canyon Springs High School in Moreno Valley, California.

For his junior year, he transferred to Martin Luther King High School in Riverside, California. He led the basketball team to a 30-3 record as a senior, earning California Mr. Basketball honors.

The 4-star recruit showed great potential, capturing the attention of college scouts from San Diego State University.

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During Leonard’s two seasons at San Diego State, the Aztecs made the NCAA tournament twice. In 2009, the team lost in the first round to Tennessee. The freshman forward led the Mountain West Conference in rebounding that year. Honors also came in the form of MWC freshman of the year, first-team All-MWC and MWC tournament MVP.

The next year Leonard and the Aztecs gained national attention by advancing to the Sweet Sixteen. They lost to the eventual national champion UConn.

Once again, Leonard was named to the All-Mountain West Conference First Team, averaging 10.4 rebounds per game in his sophomore year. The defensive standout decided he wanted to turn pro after season-end. He would enter the 2011 NBA draft.

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NBA Draft

Kawhi Leonard was drafted in the first round of the 2011 NBA Draft. The Indiana Pacers selected him with the 15th overall pick. They immediately traded him along with other players to the San Antonio Spurs for George Hill.

Kawhi Leonard NBA career

Leonard spent the first seven years of his NBA career with the San Antonio Spurs.

As a rookie, he learned from stars like Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili how to to win. The young star was named to the 2012 NBA All-Rookie First Team.

In his second season in the league, Kawhi’s defensive skills helped the Spurs advance to the 2012 NBA Finals, losing to the Miami Heat.

The next year, the Spurs returned to the Finals. This time they came away with a championship, winning the series 4-1 over the Miami Heat. Kawhi averaged 17.8 points per game and 61% shooting. His dominant play earned him the 2014 NBA Finals MVP.

The injury-plagued season of 2017-18 led Leonard to part ways with the Spurs. In 2018 he requested a trade and wound up with the Toronto Raptors.

The move paid off. Leonard won a second NBA championship with Raptors in 2019. All of Canada celebrated the team’s first-ever title. His remarkable play was among the best all-time in the NBA playoffs. An injury could not keep him from earning his second career Finals MVP honor.

In 2019, Leonard returned home to southern California to join the Los Angeles Clippers. He signed a 3-year contract with the team. He joins former Oklahoma City star Paul George, who was acquired by the team in a trade.

Kawhi Leonard Laugh video: “I’m a fun guy.”

Kawhi Leonard Net Worth

Net worth

Kawhi Leonard has a net worth of approximately $35 million. In nine years of playing professional basketball, he has earned over $84 million.

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NBA contract

In July 2015, Leonard signed a 5-year deal with the San Antonio Spurs for $94.3 million.

His new contract with the Clippers is for three years with an opt-out clause for the 2020-21 season. The Clippers will pay over $103 million over the three years, with $32.7 million in the first year, $34.4 million in the second year, and if Leonard chooses to stay with the team, $36 million in the third year.

Kawhi Leonard Basketball salary

Leonard made $23 million in 2018-19 with the Raptors. His salary ranks 32nd highest in the NBA. Steph Curry holds the number-one spot on the salary list at $37.5 million per year.

Kawhi is scheduled to make $32.7 million in his first season with the Clippers.

Top 5 NBA salaries (2018-19 season)

1). Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors, $37.5 million

2). Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder, $35.7 million

3). Chris Paul, Houston Rockets, $35.7 million

4). LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers, $35.7 million

5). Kyle Lowry, Toronto Raptors, $32.7 million

Endorsement deals

As a rookie, Kawhi Leonard signed an endorsement deal with Nike. In 2018 the deal expired and the basketball superstar signed a $5-million-per-year deal with New Balance. The company introduced a Kawhi Leonard special-edition shoe that sold out seconds after its release.

He also has signed deals with Wingstop and Cargo Jet Airways.

Kawhi Leonard personal life

Who is Kawhi Leonard’s girlfriend?

He began dating Kishele Shipley since 2014 when they met in college. The couple have two children together.

Who are his parents?

His father, Mark Leonard, was killed in a 2008 shooting at his car wash business. His mother is Kim Robertson.

Who is Kawhi Leonard’s sister?

Kawhi has four older sisters. One of them, Miesha Slayton, often lets her opinions be known about her famous brother on social media.

Kawhi Leonard house – Where does he live?

Before the deal with the Clippers was finished, Kawhi dropped $13.3 million on a new home back in his old stomping grounds in California. His digs are described as a Tuscan-style mansion located in Rancho Santa Fe near San Diego.

Kawhi Leonard fun facts

1). Kawhi Leonard is nicknamed The Klaw for his large hands and rebounding skills. Very few players in the NBA have larger hands than Kawhi. Giannis Antetokounmpo leads them all with 12-inch hands.

2). Leonard is a man of few words, with a soft-spoken personality. Videos of his unique laugh have gone viral. Teammates and coaches talk of his weird trash talk, like when he says things like “Board man gets paid.”

3). During his days in San Antonio, Leonard became a star for promotional videos he made for H-E-B Grocery Store.

4). The stoic NBA star gained national attention at his first official press conference in Toronto in 2018 for his straight-forward reply to a reporter’s question. His “I’m a fun guy” response became an instant internet meme.

5). Kawhi Leonard is the cousin of former NFL wide receiver Stevie Johnson. Johnson played for the Buffalo Bills, San Francisco 49ers and San Diego Chargers during his football career.

Find Kawhi Leonard on social media

The reclusive basketball star stays away from most social sites but you can find out more here.

Instagram: @kawhileonardofficialfanpage

Twitter: @kawhileonard

Facebook: @Kawhi-Leonard

Quotes about Kawhi Leonard

From his high school coach, Tim Sweeny Jr.

Things that you can’t teach within the game itself. Great players see the game at a different level and what they do is they react to the game at a different level. Even with all the great players, we had on the team, I could just see it right out of the gate.

I immediately got on the phone. I said, ‘Hey Dad, you gotta get down here. This kid is something else. I think we have an NBA player in our presence.’

It was really bizarre. He was already a really good player by that time, but he was always overlooked. I remember calling some of my coaching friends in the college ranks about him, but most of them weren’t interested.

I never dreamed that he was going to ascend to possibly the greatest player in the game right now. What he’s doing is simply incredible.

From his college teammates

Most people say it like, “Oh, I’m about to get buckets on you.” He was just like, “Buckets. Layup.” Just one word.
Tyrone Shelley, San Diego State teammate

If he was grabbing a rebound, he’d say, “Give me that” or “Board man” or “Board man gets paid.”
LaBradford Franklin, San Diego State teammate

If he joked, it would be like one or two comments, and he’d go like, “Yeeee.” He’d make more sounds than he actually talked.
Tim Shelton, San Diego State teammate

Instead of saying, “We need to walk to the store” or “Let’s go to the store,” he’d just say, “I’m up.” When he leaves, he just says, “I’m up.”
Tyrone Shelley, San Diego State teammate

The most he talked was on the hardcourt, and Kawhi was not afraid to let you know that you weren’t going to score on him, that you couldn’t get past him or that he would score on you. Every time the ball went through the net, he just said, “Bucket. Bucket.” That was it.
D.J. Gay, San Diego State teammate

Steve Fisher, Leonard’s College Coach at San Diego State

I haven’t gotten a chance to see him play much as a pro, but I’ll be a big Clipper fan for sure now.

He always had that inner drive, but it was without pumping his chest. He’s coming back home, but he wouldn’t be here if he didn’t think he could win. He could be the first player of his caliber to lead a team to three NBA titles with three different teams.

If I heard it once, I heard it 50 times. “Board man. I’m a board man.” That’s what he said. Absolutely. “I’m a board man. Yeah, I’m a board man. Board man gets paid.” He spoke in phrases like that.

I think coming back here was always in the back of his mind. He’s California born and raised. In his mind, he had to be wondering what it’d be like to play in the LA area.

More From Steve Fisher

What you see now, all the intangible gifts he has for the game, that all drew us to him. But I tell people this repeatedly: I’ve never seen a player who works harder on his own time. The fact that he’s a pro doesn’t surprise me. But the fact that he’s this good—as a top-five (NBA) player—I don’t think anyone saw that. Except him, in that gym by himself.

Had things gone differently, he never would have left San Antonio. He was happy there. I don’t think he was always determined to get back to Los Angeles, as much as he considered and called it home. His mother moved out there so he was happy and content before everything sort of fell apart.

Justin Hutson, San Diego State coach

If I heard it once, I heard it 50 times. “Board man. I’m a board man.” That’s what he said. Absolutely. “I’m a board man. Yeah, I’m a board man. Board man gets paid.” He spoke in phrases like that.

From his NBA coaches

I think this thing about him not saying things and being so quiet is almost played out. He was unbelievable yesterday at the parade speech, absolutely stole the show. He does that constantly, he’s the funniest guy in the film room because he waits and delivers the knockout punchline.
Nick Nurse, Toronto Raptors head coach

Kawhi is the most like Jordan we’ve seen.
Doc Rivers, Los Angeles Clippers head coach

He’s coachable, he talks to me a lot during the games about the games, in the huddles, in the film room—he talks a lot, we’ve probably misread him a bit in that way.
Nick Nurse, Toronto Raptors head coach

It’s certainly disappointing. I think, first of all, he’s a great person. He was unbelievably fun to coach, just locked in and loaded and ready to go. People would ask me, ‘What was it like coaching him?’ And I always said the best thing was I got to stand there on the courtside and watch this guy go to work. That was something that I’ll never forget. Now we got to go kick his ass.
Nick Nurse, Toronto Raptors head coach

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He doesn’t give a damn about the stardom. He loves the game. And he ignores the rest of it.
Gregg Popovich, San Antonio Spurs head coach

All the other stuff that people think matters in the recruitment, I don’t think Kawhi wanted to talk about that, so I didn’t. I talked about winning and basketball. Kawhi is a serious man, and I think you felt that with him. I think he felt the seriousness of me and how serious I am about winning, and he felt good about that match.
Doc Rivers, Los Angeles Clippers head coach

I think you can’t blame a guy for wanting to go home. That’s what he texted me today. ‘I’m going home.’ And I just said, ‘You’ve changed a lot of lives, man, by what you’ve accomplished in Toronto. Mine especially.’ And thanked him for what he did, and we’ll look to the future, and we’ll look to [win a title] again.
Nick Nurse, Toronto Raptors head coach

Kawhi Leonard quotes

On his passion for the game

I played basketball when I was little because it was fun for me. It still is now. I just love it. I have a passion for it.

I’m just playing basketball. I just want to be a great player. That’s it. That’s all I’m thinking about. If the other stuff comes, it comes, but I’m just fortunate to play in the NBA Finals and just to play basketball, period.

I want the kids to know that it’s not a myth that somebody from their city plays and wins in the NBA. I just want to influence them to work hard and do whatever they want to do in life, whether it’s to be a basketball player or scientist… if they believe in themselves, they can do anything.

Obviously, I like guys that can defend other positions. Draymond Green is doing a great job with Golden State. Jimmy Butler brings it every night when I’m out there.

I love the game of basketball, and as long as I can do that, keep playing and try to get some more championships with the organization, I’ll be happy.

On motivation

As long as you give your best effort, I feel like that’s all you can do.

I could have gone to a bigger school. How to use it as motivation going to a school that loved me. I wanted to put them on the map and show everyone that you don’t need to go to a top school to make it in the NBA.

I’m just trying to pass Tim Duncan in championships if I can one day. That’s my motivation; that’s what I strive for. Tim is one of the greatest players who has ever played, so if I could get close or reach that plateau and have my name on that list.

I like being the underdog so they don’t expect what’s going to happen. It pushes me to work harder and do the things I’m not doing better.

I’m always trying to come down with a win. That’s what matters to me and my squad.

Winning is motivation.

On failure

There’s nothing to be scared of. We’re playing basketball. The only thing that could happen is you fail. But as long as you’re going hard, there’s nothing to be scared of for me. I don’t know what there is to be scared of.

On giving 100% effort

I just tried to play every game like it’s game seven of the NBA finals.

It’s definitely fun when you’re able to translate your practice into the game. It’s fun, and you know that your hard work paid off.

I’m always trying to see what way I can lead so when the opportunity comes, it won’t just hit me in the face.

I just want to keep improving, to keep getting better.

I’m just here to play basketball and have fun and try to win another championship.

Determination Quotations

It was a great feeling to be named an All-Star starter, to know that my hard work is paying off and fans around the world are recognizing that.

I worked hard. There are a lot of guys that staying in the gym and don’t get any better. It’s about being smart, figuring out your weaknesses and not being scared to do it in the games

It’s how I’ve been playing my whole lifeguarding the best player on the other team.

I work all summer and throughout the whole season to be prepared for the challenges that I have to face.

It’s just the game itself that drives me. I just want to be able to compete at a high-level.

On keeping perspective

I’m just living in the moment, trying to win every game. That’s all I’m focused on.

I’ll never try to win an award. I’m out there just playing for my team.

I am not one of the guys in the league for fame. I’m here so I can take care of my family, my mom, my friends and take care of myself.

My dad leaving my life. That’s the biggest thing that happened to me. I just remember what he tells me, the memories, and try to move on forward each day, knowing that he’s still here, looking down on me.

I’m just the same guy… I don’t need to be a celebrity or a superstar.

I like being the underdog so they don’t expect what’s going to happen. It pushes me to work harder and to do the things I’m not doing better.

I don’t care about winning an MVP Award. The MVP doesn’t mean you’re the best player in the league.

I don’t like to bring attention to myself. I don’t like to make a scene.

On game strategy

I look at the film, but more than watching individual players. I’m trying to watch a team’s whole offense of scheme. I’m trying to know their tendencies so that I can… guess. That’s what it comes down to, really. It’s making the best guess.

People in the NBA are just as athletic as you. That’s the game. You have to have a change of pace. You have to change speeds to get around people.

I know people are going to put the main focus on stopping me, so I need to learn how to make my teammates better bypassing and creating opportunities for them.

Basketball is all mental. I just have to worry about my game.

I’m just going out there to do my role, the same role—defense first—and then see how the ball turns out on the offensive end.

People in the NBA are just as athletic as you. That’s the game. You have to change the pace. You have to change speeds to get around people.

Playing football helped me a lot growing up. Just reading the quarterbacks’ eyes and reading receivers, figuring out what they want to do.

On getting paid

You definitely see a difference in some guys’ games when they do get paid. I’m trying to make sure I’m not that player.

I’m not out here just for the money. I want to be a great player.

Next Steps: A third NBA ring with a third team?

Playing alongside newcomer Paul George, the Clippers have as good a chance to win it all like any other team in the league. Will the third team be a charm for Kawhi Leonard? Stay tuned to find out.

— Greg Johnson & Mike O’Halloran

Greg writes about football, basketball, and other sports. Mike is the editor and founder of Sports Feel Good Stories.

You’re on the Kawhi Leonard Player Profile: Insight Into the Enigmatic NBA Superstar page.

— Mike O’Halloran

Mike has authored three basketball books, served as a basketball coach for 15 years, and is editor of Sports Feel Good Stories.


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