Returning with a Purpose

If you were to ask me in February 2009, when I walked away from the sports industry, “Will you ever return?,” the answer would have been, “No, but never say never.” There’s a deeper story around what made me walk away, and I look forward to sharing that story at a later date.

Nine Years Ago

I spent over 10 years working in professional sports with hundreds of distinguished NBA and ABA legends. The relationships I built, the trust I established, and the respect I earned is something I take tremendous pride in. Basketball was always my first love growing up and I was blessed to be a part of that special fraternity for so many years. Although my hiatus from sports has been nearly 9 years, I’ve always said that if I was going to return, it would be for a higher purpose, for a cause that’s bigger than me, bigger than the athletes, and would revolve around the theme of a professional athletes legacy, beyond the game.

Nine Years Later

It’s almost 9 years to the day that I walked away from the sports industry. Starting in March of 2009 to present day, I’ve been working in digital technology. Although I’m blessed to be successful and happy with my professional accomplishments in that time frame, I’m constantly reminded that I’m truly missing my calling being away from the sports industry. Everyone has a passion and that passion exudes from them when they speak or they find themselves in their natural element. Over the last several years I’ve seen my digital technology colleagues speak passionately about technology, industry trends, analytics, and other topics that inspire them. Their passion is contagious and it’s hard to not want the same feeling. In my mind, finding that passion wasn’t as simple, especially while keeping up with my day job. I had to do some digging, so I spoke to people that are near and dear to me varying from former professional athletes, executives in sports, professional connections, family, and friends, and it turned into one big explorative and collaborative discovery. My goals were simple: channel my inner passion, leverage my relationships, make my vision a reality, remain patient as I grow my brand, and don’t be afraid to fail. And that is why today, I’m proud to announce the launch of my passion project, Beyond the Legacy.

Embracing My Passion for Sports

When I worked in sports, my official title was Senior Manager of IT, but my responsibilities were so much more. I managed and produced content for the company’s website, interviewed athletes, planned events for All-Star Weekend and annual retreats, assisted members and their families, engaged with sponsors and stakeholders, and even once organized an overseas basketball tour. When I reflect on what I enjoyed most during my tenure in sports, it was the human interaction with the basketball legends and their families. Being on the phone with a basketball legend for more than an hour, putting together blogs, Q&As, and feature stories were priceless. I always remained mindful of the legend’s time, personal stories shared, and wisdom I gained from being in their presence. While the countless stories from their playing career may have left a permanent smile on my face, I thoroughly enjoy hearing about the next chapter in their life. While many fans wonder, “Where Are They Now?” the stories they share help these athletes become relatable. I’m a huge fan of HBO’s Real Sports, ESPN E:60, and 30 for 30 or NBA’s Beyond the Paint, Players Only Monthly, and Open Court. When you can take an individual that is normally viewed as larger than life and strip them down and humanize them to the world, what you see is very impactful and inspiring. The overall goal of Beyond the Legacy is to provide a platform for former professional athletes to share stories, lend their voice to a cause and mark their impact beyond simply sports.

“When you can take an individual that is normally viewed as larger than life and strip them down and humanize them to the world, what you see if very impactful and inspiring.”

The Vision for Beyond the Legacy

When I reflect on my entire career, everything I’ve touched and experienced has prepared me for this new exciting venture with Beyond the Legacy. I look forward to reconnecting with the former professional athletes I personally know. I also look forward to building new relationships with a community of followers, new athletes, and other former professional athletes across all sports. While I won’t be the first or the last to enter this sports publishing and blog space, I hope to inspire, encourage, collaborate, and extend myself to others that are looking to enter this space or already have an established presence. Whether you are an avid sports fan or not, the stories will be more human interest, relatable, and less about reliving the highlights of an athletes playing career.

There’s a higher calling in life that athletes come face to face with beyond the game. As a professional athlete’s career comes to a close, a new chapter begins. It’s with the hope that the impact you make on society complements and exceeds your professional sports career. A legacy is something that doesn’t retire, quit, or go away. One’s legacy is something that is passed on to others you’ve impacted, future generations, and people you may never meet in a lifetime. I’m blessed to open the doors and provide a platform for former professional athletes to share their story with the world through Beyond the Legacy.

More about Drew Stephens

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