Men's Health (USA)

YO A CTIVIS

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IF YOU’RE skeptical about a 19-year-old with a company named after himself, Ariel Levy gets that. Levy has been working in sports marketing and management since he was 15, when he convinced some agents to give him a shot at bringing them players they wanted to sign.

By age 16, he’d started ASL Sports Group with a family friend and an eye on representi­ng the next generation of sports superstars. “[Players] are either all in because they like my youth and the hustle,” says Levy, “or they’re really scared and say, ‘With all due respect, I can’t sign with a 19-year-old.’ ”

Now Levy’s clients include NBA veteran Michael Beasley and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Andrew Adams. Levy is building their social-media presence and negotiatin­g deals with teams and sponsors.

He says he’s been responsibl­e for $40 million in contracts. Here’s Levy’s advice for young people in any business.

SEIZE YOUR DIFFERENCE­S Veteran managers told Levy he was too young. Levy’s answer: “I’m different from the 30-, 40-, 50-, or 60-year-old manager who’s going to sell them the same thing. I try to come in with a different pitch [by] explaining my social-media expertise.”

HUSTLE

Levy scored his first client, Sampson Carter, through dogged pursuit. “I sent mass emails to maybe 200 or 300 players who’d spent time in the NBA. Right away, I asked if we could hop on a call. We spoke for hours.”

KNOW WHEN TO MOVE ON

Levy has made mistakes, but he expects that. He asks, “How I can make this situation better right now?” Sometimes that means pushing onward to the next project.

robbed, he started a GoFundMe campaign, raising more than $15,000 to cover its losses. But the most important thing to remember, he says, is that every action is just that—an action. “The job of each person is to make sure that they’re helping the greatest they possibly can and not just posting things for the few likes, right?”

And the result is a ripple effect. This summer, Keitt led a Black Lives Matter rally with Black Men United at Charlotte’s Marshall Park. Through a bullhorn, he chanted, “All lives can’t matter until Black lives matter!” On another day, he appeared on a panel alongside the Charlotte-Mecklenbur­g police chief and other local activists and encouraged defunding the police. He shares all of this on Instagram. “I try to use the platforms that I’ve been given to let other people know that these are the things that need to be changed.”

Growing up, Keitt had to change his own outlook. He was born in Rock Hill, South Carolina, otherwise known as Football City USA, which has produced NFL greats like Jadeveon Clowney and Stephon Gilmore. His dad went to prison before he was born, and his stepfather helped his mother raise him. For years, Keitt was convinced he’d have to play football to get ahead, even as he consistent­ly failed to make the team. “Coming from that background . . . if you’re a Black man, your options feel very limited in what you can do,” he says.

By the time he was a freshman in high school, his family had moved to Charlotte, and when Keitt broke his wrist, it meant he had to stop playing sports entirely. But while he was sitting around the house, his mom asked him a question: “Are you doing your part?” It was her way of suggesting he help out at home, but over time Keitt realized that many people around him needed a hand. As a sophomore, he saved his money to start a nonprofit, Bags 4 Bagless, which donates toiletries in lightweigh­t backpacks to the homeless, an effort that continues to pass out a couple hundred bags locally each year.

Earlier this year, the Charlotte police deployed tear gas against protesters. After public pressure from Keitt and others, the city council blocked funding to the department for chemical agents. It’s a start, but Keitt has plenty more reforms in mind—to address housing practices, gerrymande­ring, and the need to stabilize communitie­s. He hopes his generation will take steps to secure its own place within the halls of power.

“I just want change from where we are, because it needs to happen,” he says. “My goal is that it just spreads. So that even if I’m not the one that’s making the change, you know, hopefully someone down the road, whether it be five years or 50 years, is actively making that push.”

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