Ralph Sampson

Ralph Sampson Net Worth

$4 Million

What is Ralph Sampson's Net Worth?

Ralph Sampson is an American former professional basketball player who has a net worth of $4 million. Even before his career in the NBA, Sampson quickly distinguished himself as a towering 7'4″ center and power forward who led his team at Harrisonburg High to two straight AA basketball championships. He played his college basketball at the University of Virginia where he was named the ACC Player of the Year from 1981 to 1983. Sampson was also college national player of the year and a consensus first-team All-American from 1981 to 1983 and was named First-team All-ACC all three years. His #50 was eventually retired by the University of Virginia.

Richest AthletesNBA Players
Net Worth:
$4 Million
Date of Birth:
Jul 7, 1960 (62 years old)
Place of Birth:
7 ft 4 in (2.24 m)
Basketball player
United States of America
💰 Compare Ralph Sampson's Net Worth

Sampson was the #1 pick of the 1983 NBA Draft by the Houston Rockets. He played for the Rockets from 1983 to 1987, going on to play for the Golden State Warriors from 1987 to 1989. After that, Sampson played for the Sacramento Kings from 1989 to 1990 and then for the Washington Bullets in 1991. Finally, he finished his career playing for the Unicaja Ronda in Spain in 1992 as well as the Rockford Lightning of the CBA from 1994 to 1995.

Then, from 1999 to 2000, Sampson moved onto the coaching phase of his career in basketball, serving as head coach for the Richmond Rhythm of the IBL.

During his time in the NBA Ralph earned his fair share of accolades. He was named NBA Rookie of the Year and NBA All-Rookie First Team in 1984. In 1985 he was named to the All-NBA Second Team and was the NBA All-Star Game MVP. Sampson was an NBA All-Star from 1984 to 1987. He also won a Gold Medal for the United States at the 1979 Pan American Games in San Juan. As the final chapter to this distinguished basketball career, Sampson was inducted into the College Basketball Hall of Fame in 2011.

Career Earnings

During his NBA career, Ralph Sampson earned a little over $17 million in salary alone. After adjusting for inflation, that's the same as around $37 million in today's dollars. His highest single season salary was $2.85 million, which he earned in both of his final two NBA seasons.

Early Life

Sampson was born in Harrisonburg, Virginia on July 7, 1960 to parents Sarah and Ralph Sampson. By the time he was in the ninth grade he was already nearly 7 ft tall, reaching 7 ft 1 in a couple years later. He played basketball while in school and was the star of his high school's team, leading the team to the state championships in 1978 and 1979.

Due to his star status as a high school player, Sampson was heavily recruited by various colleges to play basketball. He ultimately played center for the University of Virginia. During his time there, he appeared on the cover of "Sports Illustrated" six times during the four years of college. He also earned three Naismith Awards as the National Player of the Year, becoming only the second athlete after Bill Walton to do so. He considered leaving school after junior year in order to declare for the 1982 NBA draft. However, in order to avoid being drafted by the San Diego Clippers, he decided to stay in school.


The following year, during the 1983 NBA draft, the Houston Rockets picked him first overall. As a rookie, he averaged 21 points and 11.1 rebounds, played in the All-Star Game, and won the honor of the NBA Rookie of Year Award. However, despite Sampson's presence on the time, the Rockets managed only a 29-53 record during the 1983-84 season. This qualified them to pick first in the 1984 NBA draft. The team selected another very tall center – Hakeem Olajuwon. Though many criticized this choice, saying that the two players would not play well together or would be overpowering. However, the next season proved to be more successful, as the Rockets finished with a 48-34 record and made it to the playoffs for the first time in three seasons. Sampson had the best individual season and earned a spot on the All-NBA Second Team as well as the 1985 NBA All-Star Game.

The following season, the Rockets continued to improve, ending the season with a 51-31 record and winning the Midwest Division. During the playoffs, the Rockets were able to sweep the Sacramento Kings and ended up playing the Lakers in the Conference Finals. The Rockets were able to defeat the Lakers, the defending champions, in five games. During Game 5 of the series, Sampson landed an amazing turnaround jumper shot to secure the win. The shot has gone down as one of the best moments in NBA history.

Photo by Michael Buckner/Getty Images

During the NBA Finals that year, the Rockets were up against the Boston Celtics. The series was tough for Houston, and Sampson specifically who was ejected from Game 5 after taking a swing at Celtics guard Jerry Sichting. However, the general consensus was that the Houston Rockets were the team to watch and full of promise for upcoming seasons.

However, Sampson's time with the Rockets would soon come to a close. He was injured halfway through the 1987-1988 season and then fell out of favor with the Rockets coach, Bill Fitch. He was traded soon after to the Golden State Warriors. However, the trade would mark the last time Sampson would play a full season in the NBA, as he was plagued with knee trouble and injuries from that time on.

During the 1988 season with Golden State, Sampson averaged 6.4 points and 5.0 rebounds. He was then traded during the offseason to the Sacramento Kings. He only played 51 games in the next two seasons due to his injury and was then released by the Kings in 1991. He then played a 10-game stint with the Washington Bullets before being waived.

His NBA career over, Sampson then played eight games in the Spanish League during the 1911-1992 season and then went on to play for the Rockford Lightning in the Continental Basketball Association during 1994-1995. He then retired from the game for good.  He did coach a few teams over the next few decades but did not establish a strong career in coaching. In reflecting on his basketball career, Sampson has sometimes wondered whether he had attempted to recover from his knee injury too quickly, ultimately making it impossible for his to return to his full playing capacity.

Personal Life

Sampson has a number of children from different mothers. His son, Ralph Sampson III, played college basketball for the University of Minnesota. His younger son, Robert, transferred to Georgia Tech after playing three seasons for East Carolina University. He also has four daughters – Rachel, India, Leah, and Anna.

In 2005, Sampson was embroiled in some legal troubles after pleading guilty to owing more than $300K in back child support for two children from different mothers in the Northern Virginia area. He was also sentenced to two months in prison in 2006 for mail fraud associated with purchase of an SUV.

In 2011, Sampson was inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame. In February of 2012, Sampson was honored by the Houston Rockets and their fans as a member of the Decade Team of the 1980s. The same year, he was named a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame's induction class of 2012.

All net worths are calculated using data drawn from public sources. When provided, we also incorporate private tips and feedback received from the celebrities or their representatives. While we work diligently to ensure that our numbers are as accurate as possible, unless otherwise indicated they are only estimates. We welcome all corrections and feedback using the button below.
Did we make a mistake?
Submit a correction suggestion and help us fix it!
Submit a Correction