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Sports Stars Making a Social Impact: How NBA All-Star Baron Davis is highlighting unsung African-American heroes in order to give minority children more role models to look up to

Nothing will ever outshine, for me, the countless children whose eyes and imaginations I’ve seen light up when meeting Black Santa and understanding that there’s a character of pure good out there that represents them. But along with those we touch with our content, I am also humbled by those I’ve worked with who I’ve […]


Nothing will ever outshine, for me, the countless children whose eyes and imaginations I’ve seen light up when meeting Black Santa and understanding that there’s a character of pure good out there that represents them. But along with those we touch with our content, I am also humbled by those I’ve worked with who I’ve seen grown and become empowered as the company has expanded. That has meant so much to me as a leader, to see my team rise to the occasion and reach their professional potential. It’s a huge part of the joy I receive in running a business.


As a part of my series about sports stars who are making a social impact, I had the pleasure of interviewing NBA All-Star Baron Davis. Entrepreneur, investor, and two-time NBA All-Star and record-holder, over a thirteen-year career, Baron played for the Charlotte Hornets, the Golden State Warriors, the Los Angeles Clippers, the Cleveland Cavaliers, and the New York Knicks. Known for his electrifying style on the court, Davis was a powerful point guard, who won national acclaim for executing in crucial, high-pressure moments, when his team needed him the most. As a businessman, Baron was one of the original investors for Vitaminwater and helped launch Thrive Market. Baron is also the founder of several companies, including Sports and Lifestyle in Culture (SLIC), The Black Santa Company, Business Inside the Game (BIG) and No Label — each with the objective of combining creative talent with original publication and production to develop and provide educational and empowering stories that appeal to global audiences of all ages. Baron also served as producer of several acclaimed documentaries including Crips and Bloods: Made In America, 30 for 30: Sole Man, and The Drew: No Excuse, Just Produce.


Thank you so much for joining us Baron! Can you share with us the “backstory” that led you to this career path?

There was a gap in minority heroes in animation, books, and storytelling for me as a kid, and being a father now, I felt the responsibility I had to the next generation to create stories that allow us to wish and dream and build worlds that inspire young people who haven’t traditionally had these heroes to look up to.

Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your career?

We launched a number of pop up stores that featured the Black Santa and Mrs. C mascots. The joy and wonder on the kids’ faces seeing these characters come to life was truly moving for me. I had a number of parents come to me and say, “You don’t understand the impact of what you’re doing here.” Hearing that made all the hard work and struggle to get to that point instantly worth it.

What would you advise to a young person who wants to emulate your success?

Take your time to really learn and study the fundamentals of your pursuit, so that one day, your fully developed skill set will allow you to grow into a leader. For me, basketball was the way I was able to hone my leadership skills during the heat of competition. The business world needs more young leaders to push the limits of innovation, so pay attention to open opportunities, be socially aware, and listen to yourself to find your strengths.

Is there a person that made a profound impact on your life? Can you share a story?

That would be my grandmother. She gave me all the tools and etiquette to succeed when it comes connecting with people. She taught me to always listen before speaking, which to this day is the most valuable lesson I ever learned. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t rely on her wisdom. She always wanted me to do positive things, and she instilled in me the notion that there’s always a positive way to solve any situation.

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?

The mission statements of Black Santa and U Wish are to celebrate diversity, inclusivity, and the value of giving back to one’s community any way you can. Our Historic Icons coloring book was created to illuminate the deeds many unsung African-American heroes in order to give minority children more role models to look up to. We host toy drives and events for foster children as well during the holiday season, and as a business leader, it’s also my goal to build a start-up that will serve as a breeding ground for the next generation of minority executives and CEOs. I started this company, U Wish, to harvest all the incredible untapped talent out there working in these corporate infrastructures that wanted the opportunity to build a movement devoted to social change. I’m very proud of all the work we’ve done so far.

What methods are you using to most effectively share your cause with the world?

Thanks to the power of the internet and social media, you can now watch in real-time as your idea ripples throughout the world and touches people. We utilize digital marketing, entertaining-yet-educational content creation, and my platform as a celebrity to spread our message from Oakland to China. I’m very fortunate to be in a position to mentor and invest in the next generation through all the work we’re doing.

Can you share with us the story behind why you chose to take up this particular cause?

I saw an opportunity to create a business with more minority content makers and positive storytellers. There wasn’t nearly enough positive minority representation in the media, so I was determined to change that. My goal with U Wish is to entertain and educate consumers of all ages through technology that makes these stories and products accessible to anyone, anywhere, around the world.

Can you share with us a story about a person who was impacted by your cause?

Nothing will ever outshine, for me, the countless children whose eyes and imaginations I’ve seen light up when meeting Black Santa and understanding that there’s a character of pure good out there that represents them. But along with those we touch with our content, I am also humbled by those I’ve worked with who I’ve seen grown and become empowered as the company has expanded. That has meant so much to me as a leader, to see my team rise to the occasion and reach their professional potential. It’s a huge part of the joy I receive in running a business.

What are your 3 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

  • I wish someone would have told me an easier way of doing all of this! Sometimes as a creative entrepreneur, it’s understanding the logistics of executing and how important building a great operational system is that allows you to succeed. Having the right team in place is everything.
  • I also wish I’d known to think bigger early on. Only recently have I started to really believe in and see all that I can do as a creative and what my full potential might be. I wish I’d had that level of belief in myself from the beginning.
  • And finally, I wish I’d been more comfortable with using the tools I learned from sports in the business world. I think I tried to reinvent myself and shy away from my past as an athlete in this new arena, afraid I wouldn’t be taken as seriously. But what I’ve learned through experience now is how much the game prepared me for my current occupation and how well those honed skills translated: hard work, dedication, anticipation, ambition — all of those instincts have served me well. So, never turn your back on who you are. There’s always something to be gained from the lessons of our pasts.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

As a CEO, that would be to create a model for a family office that is minority led, run, operated, and funded that others could emulate. My goal is to get athletes, tastemakers, and artists to recognize that they have the power to create a paradigm shift on the social impact stage by coming together to use their influence and economic leverage to make a huge difference as a united front.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you explain how that was relevant in your life?

“Always be humble.” That’s what my grandma told me every day. It means that no matter how successful I become or what goals I accomplish, it’s always important to be humble and recognize you can’t do anything alone. There those that came before you and those who work beside you who help you every step of the way. A deep sense of humility and appreciation always builds better character and a better teammate in my experience.

Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Politics, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. 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? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

I’m afraid I couldn’t pick just one! Robert F. Smith, Laurene Powell Jobs, Jeffrey Katzenberg, and Michelle Obama all immediately come to mind. I would want to know about their unique journeys to success and hear, in their words, what they believed it was internally that elevated them to the heights they occupy. As many things as I know I would love to say to that group, I’d bet that I would learn the most by just sitting back and listening. My grandma’s advice never steered me wrong.

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