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By Dennis Malcolm Byron, Asif Lakhani and Eric Snider | Photo: By Alex Martinez | Shot on Location at COCOCO Home | February 21, 2017
For these five Atlanta gentlemen, life is a game. Each has managed to turn their passion into their profession. Here, they show us all how to play it cool.
After eight NBA All-Star appearances, a dunk championship, numerous accolades earned throughout his stellar career with three NBA teams, the well-traveled star center Dwight Howard has returned to ball in his native city of Atlanta. Replacing the Superman emblem he used to regularly flaunt with a Hawks logo emblazoning his hulking chest, Howard is still pinching himself. “Honestly, this is a dream come true,” he says. “After leaving [Atlanta] at 18 years old and playing in the NBA, the ability to be back in my hometown surrounded by family and friends and the amazing Atlanta fans—it’s a humbling experience. I hope to see the success of the Hawks continue, and, hopefully, I contribute my part in that. The fans, well, I honestly think they are the best in the country.”
Winning a championship for the Hawks is certainly on his mind, but Howard emphasizes that it is not solely on the court where he wants to contribute. “My impact on Atlanta is hopefully in its infancy,” he says. “I have so many ideas on how I can use the game of professional basketball and my D12 Foundation to change the lives of children and young adults in the area. As athletes, we have a moral and professional responsibility to make a difference. It’s the fans and the community that placed us in these positions, and we owe a great deal to them. Serving our community is paramount.”
Michael Perrett & Kevin Mcguire
January’s college football national championship game was particularly good to the Element Sports Group. Two of the Atlanta agency’s new clients were part of the victorious Clemson team. Tight end Jordan Leggett had five catches for 94 yards. And linebacker Ben Boulware not only delivered bone-rattling hits, but a post-game speech on national TV so passionate it made you want to run through a wall.
Boulware checks a lot of boxes as an NFL prospect—including the one that says “marketable”—but also mature, responsible and professional. Like other players on the Element roster, he’s the kind of guy who’s self-aware enough to hear and accept the truth. “I would say our industry is replete with over-promises,” says Michael Perrett, who founded the agency with Kevin McGuire in 2014. “It has served our agency well to under promise and over deliver—tell guys not what they want to hear, but what they need to hear.”
Element, whose principals have a combined 26 years of football-focused agency experience, has a roster that includes Bengals perennial Pro Bowl defensive tackle Geno Atkins, quicksilver Jaguars running back Denard Robinson and Broncos starting cornerback Bradley Roby. In 2014, the duo took a chance and broke off from the successful SportsTrust Advisors, where they worked together, and have grown the agency fast and furious.
Atlanta is the ideal HQ for the duo's business. “Look at all the talent within a five-hour radius of the city,” McGuire says, referencing SEC and ACC country. “Plus, with the airport, we can be in any NFL city in the drop of a hat.”
If you’re an avid golfer or a golf fan—or know someone who is—then you probably know about the struggle of lugging heavy golf clubs around. Richard Stamper and his team have a solution. The longtime metro Atlanta resident and Harvard MBA graduate is the president and CEO of DV8 Sports, a local startup revolutionizing the recreational golf game one backpack at a time. DV8 has managed to pack a set of golf clubs with interchangeable heads (14 total) and shafts into a backpack that can be carried with you easily. The portable clubs are sturdy, can be swapped out by hand in a matter of seconds, and perform—pardon the pun—on par with the set in the trunk of your car or in the corner of your office. “Atlanta’s [great] because there’s a pool of golf-industry talent already here,” he says, which is key for DV8’s success. After years of working at SkyGolf, Srixon Sports USA, Callaway Golf in Europe and more, he joined the company four years ago, after a referral from his network put him in touch with the product’s two founders. It’s unlike anything he’s done before, he says. With a CV like Stamper’s, that’s saying something.
As a 680 The Fan radio host, producer, multifaceted reporter and television analyst (to name a few occupations), proud Decatur native and Morehouse College graduate Brandon Leak undoubtedly justifies his popular moniker “Hometeam.” He has shown a remarkable passion for enlightening Georgia’s sports fanatics with his wit, magnetic personality and more than a decade of experience in the media business. From high school to Georgia State and Georgia Tech to the Hawks, Falcons and Braves, virtually anything involving a ball will capture Leak's coverage.
With a passion for sports and years of experience, Leak has become a staple in Atlanta sports media and has one of the most distinct voices in sports talk radio on The Rude Awakening. Hometeam is also a member of the Atlanta Hawks’ in-house media team, hosts Comcast’s Hawks Talk and is a web correspondent and contributor for hawks.com. Additionally, he covers the Atlanta Falcons for 680 The Fan, providing analysis and weekly interviews for listeners. Leak has also served as the host of Comcast's TV show Falcons Report.
The man has proven for decades he is among the most devoted Atlanta sports fans who lives by the motto: “If you stay ready, you do not have to get ready.” He continues to work hard, making a name for himself and putting his mark on his hometown. A likable guy with a friendly disposition, Hometeam has definitely become a hometown favorite.
Styled by Jhoanna Alba of aLBA