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Wednesday, May 4, 2011
LeBron James invests in business

Associated Press

MIAMI -- LeBron James is getting into the energy business.

The Miami Heat star was part of a group that formally announced the launch of a new product Wednesday called Sheets energy strips, a caffeinated product that dissolves when placed on the tongue. Company officials say the strips will be in stores nationwide early next month.

The company, Purebrands LLC, lists James as a co-founder, along with his longtime confidant and business partner Maverick Carter and entrepreneurs Warren Struhl and Jesse Itzler. The strips are supposed to provide caffeine comparable to one cup of coffee, and a vitamin boost as well.

James said he has been using the product before workouts and Heat games.

"I've tried tons of other products in the past and none compare," James said.

Several celebrities are also involved in the launch, including Amare Stoudemire of the New York Knicks, Ray Rice of the Baltimore Ravens, plus entertainers Drake and Pitbull.

There's a $10 million marketing campaign to support the launch as well.

"We have a plan, a road map to ensure that our product gets ahead of anybody that wants to try to come into the market, particularly utilizing LeBron and others as the face of our brand," said Struhl, the company's CEO.

It's the second major business announcement from James in four weeks. On April 6, he signed with Fenway Sports Management, obtaining a small ownership stake of Liverpool FC.

Having that much business-related activity around the most important part of the Heat season is not an issue, James said.

"LeBron's focus is on the Boston Celtics right now," Carter said. "That's what he cares about. I focus on this, he focuses on that."

Miami leads its Eastern Conference semifinal series with the Celtics 2-0, with Game 3 Saturday in Boston.

The product is expected to be available internationally by year's end, with packages of four strips expected to carry a price of about $2.95. Packages of two and 10 strips also are planned.

The company said much effort was made to ensure that the product would not trigger positive drug tests for elite athletes.

"We cross-referenced all the ingredients with league policy, etc.," Itzler said. "We had a team of scientists and input from LeBron's trainer, nutritionists, a lot of voices chiming in. We spent a year on it. We went through a lot of different renditions before we got to a point where we said, 'Wow, we nailed it."