Before the films (586 total as an actor or director). Before the featured performances. Before the tours and the books and the national radio shows. Before “Lisa Ann” ever existed—I was a basketball fan.
I grew up that way, catching my first NBA Game in 1983 at the Spectrum in Philadelphia. It was the 76ers—Dr. J, Moses Malone, and Maurice Cheeks the year they swept the Lakers to win a championship for Philly. The pace, the skill, the teamwork—basketball was love at first sight.
The game made me competitive, kept me in shape, and gave me something to follow while traveling. Later in life, basketball would keep me in check while I was on the road as a Feature Entertainer. I mastered syncing my travel schedule with the NBA schedule so I could go to games and experience arenas all over the U.S. Cheering beside fans in their team’s home stadium birthed instant connections with the cities I visited. To this day, I can and will watch at least one game a day—every day—during the NBA regular season. Come playoff time I am a total shut in. So it's safe to say my one true love is the NBA and the romance is still very much alive.
Twenty-five years ago, I decided to become more than just a fan. Having seen first-hand the dangers NBA players face on a daily basis, I felt it was my social responsibility to help these young men navigate their newfound fame and wealth. I decided to mentor young players, to take them under my wing and teach them what they needed to know in order to not get hustled by “friends” and women out to take what they have.
That began 25 years ago. Today, I am ready to drop a Shaq-sized bomb on you: Basketball players are just people!
Why do I say that? Well, if any of the unfortunate incidents involving NBA players that we regularly see on the news happened to you, would you want millions of Americans to immediately react with blame and judgment? NO! As a matter of fact, you might just want some empathy from a public that understands very little about you and your situation.
So that is exactly what I am asking you to have for professional basketball players you may see involved in off-court “incidents”—empathy.
“My guess is a minimum of 25 percent of NBA players have dealt with blackmail at some point in their career.”
Let me break down some facts for you. The average age of an NBA player is 26.7 years old, nearly a full year younger than it was 20 years ago despite high school players now being ineligible for the Draft. Every year, the NBA Draft dumps a new crop of fresh-faced, would-be college sophomores into the league. At this moment, there are 24 players on teams who still can't legally drink. Which is wild when the average salary of an NBA player is $4,584,080. That's a lot of responsibility for someone that age.
What were you doing at their age?
Even more, what would you be doing if you were them? What would you be doing with paychecks that heavy, women that inviting, and with little knowledge that a significant percentage of your past, present, and future acquaintances are trying to hustle you? Let me tell you—you’d be partying.
When a young player dreams of playing in the NBA, that dream rarely comes with downsides. The tradeoffs of achieving that dream are hard to understand and even harder to accept. Reaching what many thought was an unattainable level of success yet having to be constantly conscious of your safety when out enjoying yourself or interacting with a lady can be a lot for a young player to process.
When I have the opportunity to meet a young athlete, the first chance we get to sit and talk, I share everything I know about their new life. I’ll touch upon the risks that they are briefed about in the rookie symposium—but then it gets real. I go into hours of stories to help them understand how real things are about to get.
For example, I’ll talk about the time a player I was close with in the early ‘90s ignored my warnings, got hustled by some girls I knew, and in a matter of six months was on TV in court in jeopardy of losing everything. He was having too much fun to see the truth.
Or I’ll tell them about the industry girl who had a paid relationship with a well-known player. She convinced herself they had a relationship while, at the very same time, he was trying to keep things quiet and not personal. I spoke with someone very close to this player to send the warning that needed to be sent, but still, I am sure to this day he lives in fear knowing she saved every message, every hotel receipt, and has a false sense of what their relationship was about.
At any moment it could crumble for him and his family. No hookup is worth all of that. That is the lesson I teach these young men.
I’ll also share examples that they may have heard about in the news and then fill them in on the behind-the-scenes details of what really happened, as my previous career gives me access to many of those untold truths.
There are quite a few girls in the adult industry who have purposely placed themselves into a situation that ended up being very profitable for them. It isn’t a fun conversation to have with an excited millionaire in their early 20's, but I think coming from me these warnings have a much greater impact. As much as I want to join young players in their optimism, with my knowledge it’s my responsibility to tell them how at-risk they are and, most importantly, what to look out for. It’s crucial they have a clear understanding of what is real in order to avoid the pitfalls of celebrity.
“They will steal. Anything. A watch, a wallet, jewelry—I even heard a girl say she took a Playstation and a pair of J’s to give to her boyfriend.”
When the news shares stories of NBA players being conned, hurt, harassed, or the victims of police brutality, every time I am saddened by the lack of public empathy and premature judgment these players face. When I hear people say things like, “What was he doing out so late?” or “Why would he bring those girls home from the club?” it’s obvious to me that not only have these people have never been that age with that money and that level of fame, but that they can't even imagine that world.
On the real, if you could have two girls at the same damn time, many or most of you would do it in a second. So stop with the one-sided commentary and unfounded judgment.
Most stories of NBA players getting hustled do not shock me since I’ve probably heard the worst from girls talking on porn sets about the things they do to players. I’ve heard girls say they make sure he is married or in a relationship before going back to his hotel with him. Once there they wait for their moment alone with his wallet and take photos of all of his credit cards and his ID. The final part of the plan is blackmail. You would be shocked how many NBA players have had been blackmailed in an effort to keep their privacy. My guess is a minimum of 25 percent of NBA players have dealt with blackmail at some point in their career. I’ve heard girls brag about long-term hustles where they have a player paying their rent and expenses just to keep them quiet and out of their family life.
You are judging—I feel it. You’re thinking they shouldn’t be cheating. Yes, this is true. But let’s be real, after the details of last year’s Ashley Madison hack were released, it’s about time to push that mindset aside. That hack wasn’t athletes, but up to 37 million men were found to be using the adultery-focused site. That’s about one in every four American men not only being open to cheating on their spouses, but taking real steps to do so. So, right or wrong, ignore your personal opinions on infidelity and look at these players as ordinary people in extraordinary situations.
“The risk level was so intense at one club that the owner handed me a gun to take out with me in case I had a problem.”
Let’s say a player is single; it still makes him an easy target. Sure, he may not be a long-term hustle and he may not be as easy to blackmail, but there are other ways. They will steal. Anything. A watch, a wallet, jewelry—I even heard a girl say she took a Playstation and a pair of J’s to give to her boyfriend once.
Strip clubs are another common danger for young players. My office for most of my life from ages 16-42, I know clubs tend to operate with the idea that most people don’t want to be caught there or going there. So they often scam credit cards and girls often steal wallets after a guy has had too much to drink. Their rationale is that no one will ever come back to complain out of the fear of getting caught or, even worse, getting beat up by someone at the club. I have witnessed clubs shake down wealthy patrons that were drunk as well as set up “outside jobs” where they have someone waiting for a patron to leave.
With hustles like this happening to regular people, you can imagine how much more likely it is to happen to a famous, naive, 6'8" NBA millionaire.
He’s like a neon target to these people, and the longer he’s at the club, the greater the chances sinister plans get set in motion. Sometimes these hustles can be nearly deadly, as we learned in the December 2015 shooting of Knicks sophomore guard Cleanthony Early.
Will we ever know what really led up to Early's Uber getting boxed in a mile outside of a strip club and him then getting shot in the leg and robbed? Most likely not. To compound most clubs’ already intense secrecy, many establishments, especially those in the northeast, are heavily connected with a cop or two and get away with things you couldn’t even imagine. From my experience anywhere between 25-50 percent of northeast strip clubs have this privilege. The risk level was so intense at one club I Featured that the owner handed me a gun to take out with me in case I had a problem.
That was pretty much the green light that let me know it was time for me to go. Not just from that club, but from that kind of life all together. I was 41 at that time. For me, it’s really not hard to see how a 22-year-old could be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
I am proud to say that all of the players I have mentored have listened to my hours of lectures and are focused on doing the right things. Some mistakes have happened, but we are all human and therefore all allowed to make mistakes. To give you some clarity on exactly what I advise, let me run through the basics.
1. No New Friends
It’s not just a song, it’s your new motto after coming into that type of money and fame.
Anyone new has new intentions. Those intentions could be as innocent as wanting to be around the glimmer and flash that surrounds the player or as malicious as looking for a financial investment in something that ends up being little more than a cash grab. The reality is harsh, but once you become a walking price tag to people, common decency is off the menu and everything you least expect is being served.
Friendships will arise just like followers on social media, but with little knowledge of what these new people are really about, your future endorsements are at risk of being affected by their actions. I advise always having someone with you as a buffer; security helps limit how many times you have to say “no” and also gives you a witness to always protect you against the accusations of others.
2. Flush Your Condoms
Always bring your own and don’t forget to flush them.
I have heard of girls poking small holes in condom packaging to try to have their NBA baby. Your future baby is the biggest potential paycheck she will ever get. Don’t take the chance; it is too easy to be prepared.
A confidentiality agreement is common, but the reality is the girl has nothing to lose which, in turn, makes it pointless. A witness that can corroborate that the woman wanted to enter your hotel and share time alone with you, well, that could’ve saved a lot of athletes a lot of money and/or jail time. No cameras, no photos, and no recordings—even sound is enough for blackmail these days.
Consensual sex is her word against yours. If a girl wants more from a player than a baby, like say a relationship that the player himself doesn’t want, the girl may go publicly with your word against hers. This is not a situation you want.
3. Use the Hotel Safe
Lock everything in your hotel safe; don’t leave the option to be got.
Leave nothing out. Computers, phones, or anything with a player's name on it can be used for blackmail. The ideal situation is a blank room if an additional one can be booked. The player will eventually have to use the bathroom, which gives the woman every chance she needs to grab whatever is in sight. She can easily take pics on her cell phone and use them as blackmail. Always consider something like this could take place, because there’s a decent chance she is plotting with friends by text while you innocently use the bathroom or take a shower.
4. Hotel > Your House
Don’t feel the need to bring a girl back to your place—a hotel is always better.
And safer, as there are cameras in the lobby for evidence if there is an issue. She does not need to know where you live.
As I personally live in a world with endless stalkers, the fear of letting someone know where I live is as real as it should be for all players. A player’s travel schedule is well documented and readily available and there is enough time for someone to go into your home without your permission while you’re gone. No one new needs to know where you live.
Once you invite people into your home, there is a comfort level they may feel that you don’t. Do you actually trust a stranger with everything you have, especially your privacy and safety?
5. Avoid Peer Pressure
Don’t let your old friends make you stay out and do things that you know you shouldn’t.
This is a tough one, as there is a lot of guilt associated with success. This is especially true of a young player who has friends that feel entitled to a piece of everything the player has, including fun. These friends often have nothing to lose, so it comes easy to them to make bad suggestions.
This life can be a dream—don’t let it become a nightmare. Stay on course, stay focused, and remember one day you’ll get to retire young and do all the things you couldn’t do while you were playing. Your real friends will understand, respect, and support that. Let those thoughts and actions define your friendships.