…As a recovering drug addict having just celebrated 11 years sober I wrote a best-selling book “Aiming High” talking about the hell of my 23 year opiate addiction, to the beauty of spiritual recovery and finally building self-esteem by doing esteem-able acts. My platform as an agent to some of the most iconic figures of our time has helped so many teens and adults struggling with addiction. It has been the biggest blessing of my life.
As a part of my series about sports stars who are making a social impact, I had the pleasure of interviewing Darren Michael Prince. Darren is a sports and celebrity agent who grew up in Livingston, New Jersey. Prince started a mail order company selling baseball cards at the age of 14 called Baseball Card City and also traveled around the country doing trade shows. At the age of 20 he sold his company for $1.0M and formed Prince of Cards which became an industry leader in private autograph signings for sports and celebrity memorabilia with athletes and celebrities. A-List celebrities like Muhammad Ali, Magic Johnson, Pele, Joe Montana, Smokin’ Joe Frazier, Dennis Rodman, Hulk Hogan, Pamela Anderson, Carmen Electra and Jenny McCarthy all worked with Prince. In 1995 Prince started a new venture called Prince Marketing Group (PMG) which represented athletes and celebrities for marketing deals consisting of endorsements, licensing, TV, Movie, book deals, autograph signings and appearances. His first client to sign with the firm was none other than Magic Johnson. Soon after Smokin’ Joe Frazier, Hulk Hogan, Pamela Anderson, Chevy Chase and Dennis Rodman followed. In 1998 Prince sold his memorabilia company Prince of Cards for an undisclosed amount. By 2003 with PMG growing at an enormous pace they then added Hulk Hogan, The Late Evel Knievel, Roy Jones Jr, Scottie Pippen, Motley Crue frontman Vince Neil and Ric Flair as clients. Since 2009 PMG has added several Iconic actors from Oscar Nominees Burt Reynolds and Mickey Rourke to recently Charlie Sheen in 2016. PMG also has negotiated the only licensed trading card deals for the now President Donald Trump, Jennifer Lopez, Britney Spears and Joe Manganiello. If you ask Prince his biggest and most important accomplishment he would tell you is being a recovering addict having celebrated 10 years sober and is a public recovery advocate and speaker who has appeared on Dr OZ, CNN w/ Chris Cuomo, Good Day NY, Good Day LA, Extra TV and many others. He was an invited guest by President Trump’s administration to the White House for the Opiate Epidemic Summit on March 1, 2018. Darren has been a board member and has assisted in fundraising for NJ’s largest and oldest drug and alcohol rehab center Turning Point in Patterson, NJ. His clients Magic Johnson, Dennis Rodman, Micky Ward, Vince Neil, Chris Herren and the Late Smokin’ Joe Frazier have all attended Turning Points annual Gala, helping to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars to help people in need get treatment and save lives. Prince himself was the honoree for Turning Points Hope and Recovery Gala in October of 2017. In 2018 Darren Prince released his memoir, Aiming High. Aiming quickly became an International best seller in 4 countries and on October 6, 2018 made it to Amazon #1 new release list. Soon thereafter Darren became a representative for Banyan Rehab Treatment Centers. On October 24, 2018 Darren was 1 of 225 invited guests to the White House for the historic signing by President Trump of the $6B bill to help fight the opiate epidemic. Currently Darren is a highly sought after keynote speaker often speaking to students in high schools about avoiding the pitfalls of addiction and learning to feel comfortable in your own skin and hanging with the right crowd In his presentations Darren talks about his secret hell of a 23 year plus opiate addiction while representing some of the most Iconic figures of our time. The sports/entertainment industry is a small world and very competitive,” says Darren Prince, CEO of Prince Marketing Group. “Prince Marketing Group has prospered over the years by delivering out of the box thinking for clients and building relationships through the practice of good business and effective networking.” Prince Marketing Group is currently a multimillion-dollar business that has negotiated over $200 Million in deals and secures marketing deals, arranges signing/memorabilia appearances, commercial licensing, product endorsement, voice-overs as well as negotiates television and movies deals. Darren is a true entrepreneur as he has been able to continuously reinvent himself and continue to grow his business over the years. He has been featured in outlets such as Your World With Neil Cavuto, The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch, CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360, Hannity & Colmes, ESPN, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, New York Post, USA Today, Forbes’ Sports Money, On the record with Greta Van Susteren, Howard Stern radio, CNBC The Closing Bell and a variety of others for his marketing expertise.
Thank you so much for joining us Darren. Can you share with us the “backstory” that led you to this career path?
I had a very successful mail order baseball card company at 14 years old that I sold at 20 and started a sports / celebrity memorabilia company doing and booking signings, which I subsequently sold to start my agency at 25 with Magic Johnson as my first client. I had a relationship with him from booking signings on his behalf.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your career?
My first night out with Dennis Rodman in 1996 an hour after he won game 5 of the NBA Finals for the Bulls — he invited me to Crazy Horse strip club with him to discuss business over lap dances and cocktails.
What would you advise to a young person who wants to emulate your success?
Be honest, work hard, believe you are who you’re becoming so when you eventually get there you have the mindset you have been there already.
Is there a person that made a profound impact on your life? Can you share a story?
My late father who taught me 3 keys to business success in my teens: 1.) It’s not what you say it’s what you do. 2.) The idea is 1%, carrying it through is the other 99%. 3.) Your reputation is the hardest thing to uphold and the easiest thing to lose — you only get one chance!
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world? Can you share with us the meaningful or exciting causes you are working on right now?
Yes. As a recovering drug addict having just celebrated 11 years sober I wrote an International best-selling book “Aiming High” talking about the hell of my 23 year opiate addiction, to the beauty of spiritual recovery and finally building self-esteem by doing esteem-able acts. My platform as an agent to some of the most iconic figures of our time has helped so many teens and adults struggling with addiction. It has been the biggest blessing of my life.
What methods are you using to most effectively share your cause with the world?
I’m a keynote speaker speaking several times a month at high schools, galas, businesses and doing press always. I’m a rep for Banyan Treatment Centers, which has 11 locations in FL, PA, IL and MA and the call center has a special number set up where people struggling can call me to get the help they need and treatment at Banyan — 888–6-Darren
Can you share with our readers a bit about how your addiction affected your life?
I was living a total lie; at one point what was once living to use turned out to using to live and I truly didn’t want to live anymore. Even with all the success I was totally broken on the inside.
Can you share with us the story behind why you chose to take up this particular cause?
Because of my own struggle I know I’ve been given the gift of desperation and the power of choice back in my life and feel it’s my duty to share that with the world.
Can you share with us a story about a person who was impacted by your cause?
All of my clients. Magic Johnson wrote the foreword to my book and many others and VIP friends gave great testimonials… Hulk Hogan, Dennis Rodman, Ric Flair, Mark Cuban, Jeanie Buss, Chris Herren, Dr Drew Pinsky, to name a few.
What are your “3 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
Speak up at a young age if you don’t feel a part of or less than and insecure so it doesn’t haunt you later on in life. This is related to how drugs made me feel as good as everyone else for many years until it turned on me.
Don’t feel so pressured to perform well in school, as that bought on so many issues through me being labeled with a learning disability. Reason I say this is school isn’t for everyone in my opinion. Some of the most successful people in the world barely made it out of high school.
Surround yourself with positive people who build you up and cheer for you. I’ve had a list of people in my life that were there for the ride and slowly disappeared when things got tough for me or I removed them. Keep your inner circle tight…
If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?
To end the stigma of addiction, so we don’t have so many people in recovery being anonymous. We need to share our gift with the world so we don’t lose so many lives.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you explain how that was relevant in your life?
When I signed Magic Johnson as my first client he said “I need to use him to bring in all the celebrity clients to my agency Prince Marketing Group That life isn’t about how successful he becomes it’s about how successful he can make me and others around him by paying it forward and it’s a domino effect.”
Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why?
Not really — I’m blessed to have worked for the most iconic people in the world the past 25 years so most want to have breakfast or lunch with my clients…Magic, Hulk, Ric, Charlie Sheen, Chevy Chase and the late Muhammad Ali, Smokin Joe Frazier, Evel Knievel and Burt Reynolds. I’ve been with them all out to eat at one time or another. But I would love to have my Dad back here one more time to take to lunch and go fishing with so he can hear how amazing life is for me. But I do have a feeling he sees it from above!