American football player in a haze and rain on black background. Portrait. Athlete dissecting white smoke and water drops. Sportsman shines in the rays of light By Jasmine Browley ·Updated February 16, 2024
In 2015, Sports Illustrated reported that around 80% of retired NFL players go broke in their first three years out of the League. Back then, the income in the NFL was about $750,000, yet many footballers found themselves in dire financial straights, and often seeking refuge in bankruptcy protection filings.
Michael Ledo doesn’t want the current generation of players to face the same fate.
He was inspired to launch his business consulting firm Rise Advisors, after watching his high-powered NFL agent uncle, Eugene Parker, shape the careers of seven Hall of Famers including Deion Sanders, Emmett Smith and Rod Woodson among others.
“I got to see Black excellence in close proximity that me know a career doing what I love the most, helping people build wealth, is possible,” Ledo tells ESSENCE.
Although he didn’t think he’d be doing what he’s doing right now, his uncle gave me an entrepreneurial identity. Now, his firm is managing a client portfolio worth $100M+ that includes the likes of Jessie Bates III, Matt Judon, Jaylon Smith, and Blake Fisher, who is expected to be the 2nd overall pick in the NFL.
Rise Advisors plays the role of a fairy godparent, so to speak, for its clients. Not only does the team identify fitting business opportunities, it brokers, oversees, and manages them alongside its clients. It also provides agents, managers, publicists and a myriad of other pros that the player may need in their quest for financial viability.
“Our success depends on the success of our clients,” Ledo says. He explains that as opposed to his firm taking a commission from every successful project they broker, the firm is paid bottom line of its clients’ net worth, “not off of their pay.”
He gives the example of an agent getting paid 3% of a $100 million contract they helped broker on behalf of a client.
“We get paid on the bottom line of what they’re worth in investments,” he says. “So, how much do you have in real estate? How much do you have in equities and stock and bonds? How much do you have in venture? How much do you have sitting in the bank? We aim to grow that worth because if it grows, our pay grows.”
Ledo says he created this compensation structure for the company because many athletes, particularly Black athletes, aren’t given guidance to properly allocate a new influx of cash. But most importantly, he provides mentorship when it’s needed the most, When asked if he feels like he also takes on a paternal role in addition to consultant he responds in the affirmative.
“I do,” he says. “I take a strong responsibility in protecting them and educating them. I don’t ever desire to control them because I don’t want to be controlled, but that’s very much true. That’s very much true. And it feels good to know I have a part in helping their futures remain bright.”
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Jamie Foxx returned to the spotlight on Monday night — and to the delight of fans, he was back to his hilarious jokester self.
He attended the Critics Choice Association‘s Celebration of Cinema and Television: Honoring Black, Latino and AAPI Achievements to accept the Vanguard Award for his work in the Prime Video movie “The Burial.” The Oscar winner cracked up the audience as he recalled his battle with a serious “medical complication.”
After receiving a beautiful tribute from his “The Burial” co-star Jurnee Smollett, Foxx triumphantly walked across the stage to the excited cheers of attendees. He offered his thanks for the recognition of his work before switching gears to poke fun at the conspiracy theories that surrounded his medical emergency.
“I’ve been through something. I’ve been through some things,” Foxx said. “You know, it’s crazy, I couldn’t do that six months ago — I couldn’t actually walk. I’m not a clone, I’m not a clone. I know a lot of people who was saying I was cloned out there.”
In April, the “Ray” star was rushed to an Atlanta hospital with a “medical complication.” His family kept details quiet, which led the internet to wildly speculate on his condition and the cause of his health issues. As he commanded the stage like the born entertainer that he is, the “Blame It” singer reflected on his new appreciation for life, noting that everything feels “different” now.
“It feels good to be here. I cherish every single minute now. It’s different. It’s different,” he said. “I wouldn’t wish what I went through on my worst enemy, because it’s tough when you almost…When it’s almost over, when you see the tunnel.”
One thing that became clear during his speech was that Jamie hasn’t lost his comedic timing or brilliance. The way he transitioned between the serious emotions of his experience and the humorous aspects of almost dying was pure genius.
“I saw the tunnel. I didn’t see the light,” Foxx joked. “It was hot in that tunnel so I didn’t know where I was going. Shit, am I going to the right place? I seen the devil goin ‘C’mon, now.’”
Despite his good spirits, Jamie was noticeably emotional about the moment. He closed his acceptance speech by truly appreciating everything it took to get him back on stage where he belongs.
“I want to say six months ago I couldn’t fathom that this could happen or that I would be here, but as I walk up here to this microphone and get this Vanguard Award, all I can say is ‘Lord, have mercy, Jesus,’” he said.