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Adam Bradley, of Hardwood Hustle, and Mike, a co-founder of The Make Life Good Company, met through a mutual friend Mike went to college with at James Madison University and with whom Adam grew up. Though Mike and Adam had met while they were in college together, it wasn't until Adam and Mike were in New Orleans for the same friend's bachelor party that they had the chance to have a meaningful conversation and get to know one another.
Adam, it turns out, had some major life challenges since we were at college together. Much of Adam's personal transformation, which you will read about in his blog below, had come to fruition once he began working in the community with people of various backgrounds and disadvantages.
Adam and Mike really connected when they spoke about the meaning behind the work. Most importantly, through, Adam realized that if you help others and do good for people in your life and communities, life is bound to pay forward your good deeds and produce more meaning in everyone's lives.
After experiencing many bumps and curves on the road to his new attitude, Adam came through with a tremendous outlook on life. He now makes life good for many people all across the country.
Adam is a founder of Hardwood Hustle, a podcast platform designed to educate, empower and encourage basketball coaches, players and parents, and recently launched the nationally recognized leadership program “Lead ‘Em Up,” which provides coaches an engaging and cutting edge curriculum they can use with their players.
Here’s his story that we would like to share.
One of my favorite themes in our leadership program, Lead 'Em Up, comes in our "Rebounding from Adversity" session. It’s a theme that discusses "making your story greater."
I Iove that theme for a couple reasons. First, it's easy to understand and secondly it’s applicable for everyone no matter how good or challenging your life may be.
Today, I’m still in the process of trying to make my story greater because it was far from pretty at one point. I often say I'm not where I want to be, but I'm happy not to be where I could be.
Fifteen years ago I went on a 12-month streak that consisted of the following series of events:
- crashed my car drinking and driving
- got a DUI
- lost my license for 6-months
- had to take alcohol-awareness classes
- assigned to probation
- dropped out of college
- incurred more than $3K in legal fees
- required to perform 300 hours of community service
During this time period, I not only sold drugs, but I took advantage of whatever drug I could get my hands on.
And I violated my probation not once but twice. After the second violation, my probation officer looked at me and sternly said, “One more violation of any kind, you're doing 90 days in jail. Period. No questions asked."
That was the eye opener this stubborn young man needed to hear.
Bold changes needed to be made. At no fault of my mom, I decided a change of scenery was needed so I moved in with my Dad. My Dad was a strong man of faith and had spent years doing prison ministry. I knew the change in my home culture and the change in the proximity to my current influences were going to create a change in me.
As quickly as things spiraled down in my life, they reversed course just as fast. Within the next year I enrolled back in college, getting straight A's for the first time in my life, got promoted at my job, started coaching a high school basketball team, began mentoring a group of young people, met my future wife, and committed to my faith.
My story was slowly becoming greater.
The largest accelerator in my professional journey came through the creation and launch of my online sports network: Ball Hogs Radio Network. Everything changes when you get tasked with an opportunity of creating something out of nothing. My partners and I took a small internet radio show that consisted of five guys in a basement and turned it into a network with nine shows, more than fifty contributors, corporate sponsors and an affiliate deal signed with Ted Leonsis, the owner of the Washington Wizards and Washington Capitals.
That doesn’t just happen without a willingness to learn… and a lot of help from others.
My efforts taught me how to engage a community, lead a group of people, work through interpersonal conflict and build a business. I recently spoke to a military captain about how they create such strong leaders in the Marines and he pointed to a concept called “situational training.” He added, “We put our leaders in situations where they are forced to perform and through those situations, we evaluate, teach and get better.” Building my podcast network and business forced me to perform through various situations. The process generated a maturity and confidence in me that changed my life.
The network began to open doors all around me. It connected me to Alan Stein and together we launched a dynamic podcast platform for coaches and players called the Hardwood Hustle. The Hustle is a platform that allowed us to educate, empower and encourage the basketball community. Stepping into that community inspired me to want to do more.
Both the Ball Hogs network and the Hardwood Hustle opened doors to various speaking engagements around the country, which helped continue my journey and make a shift in my heart to serve young people and pushed the launch another podcast called Lead ‘Em Up leadership curriculum for basketball coaches.
As I sit here today, I look around and feel my biggest social impact is through the Lead ‘Em Up program. This leadership curriculum we created in 2014 is now being used by high schools all across the United States and in five countries around the world.
Coaches are using the program, but so am I.
For me, I have the opportunity to work with two different schools in the Baltimore/Washington D.C. area every season. I try my best to share my experiences with all the players and coaches I work with. I get to know these young men and women and I do my best to influence them. As I often tell my players, my goal is very simple - to make you shine.
What I enjoy most, though is that Lead ‘Em Up is a double-bottom line business for me, which is the best kind because the program generates revenue and at the same time positively impacts the lives of the coaches and players I reach every day.
When you live life the right way, it naturally produces a wave of momentum that you can continue to ride. And I’m going to continue riding this wave that’s built on serving others, which also just so happens to “make life good” for so many others.
Cheers! Adam Bradley