Darrian Freeman has always had a love for sports. He grew up with a father who was a college basketball coach. He went on to play for Palm Beach State College. But then, he tore his ACL and his hoop dreams were crushed. However, that did not stop Darrian from pursuing his passion for sports in other ways.
He later transferred to Florida International University (FIU), majored in hospitality management, and did a study abroad trip to China. As he said on Episode 8 of the Agents of Innovation podcast, you kind of figure out what you’re really into when you’re in a place where you don’t know the language and you don’t know many people. That’s when he got back into basketball – as a coach.
When he came back to South Florida, he then got involved with a program called City Year, where he tutored and mentored at-risk youth. While his focus was teaching them math during the day, he also got involved as a basketball coach.
It was during that time that he first reached out to a contact he had made at Pro Look Sports. Darrian wanted to help these kids from low-income families find an affordable way to acquire uniforms for their team. Pro Look Sports donated 15 uniforms to the team. Darrian had worn Pro Look Sports plenty growing up, but this donation for these kids from low-income families provided a lasting connection.
After completing his time with City Year, Darrian went on to further his education through a Master’s degree in Sports Administration at Arkansas State University. In class one day, his professor was wearing a Pro Look Sports polo. It was too much of a coincidence. He decided that day he wanted to “be a big force in this sports apparel business.”
Today, Darrian is still in the start up phase of his business, Free Reign Sports. He goes out and makes the sales, empowers teams to customize their own uniforms at an affordable price (without all the “add on” costs that most apparel companies charge for customization), and works with Pro Look Sports as the manufacturer of the apparel.
He said he chose the name “Free Reign Sports” because it symbolizes that “you can do what you want.” He wants to “deliver personalization” and empower sports teams at every level to “stand out from the crowd.”
During his time in China, he made friends with other young entrepreneurs from FIU who are also pursuing various business ventures. To this day, they still bounce ideas off each other in what they call their “mastermind group.” He says hanging with them “keeps me focused.” Surrounding himself with other innovators allows him “to know I have people around me who have the same kind of goals and same kind of drive and really want to be successful,” says Freeman. “I know who you surround yourself with is kind of what you’ll end up going towards …. I do think it has an impact on you.”
While he’s building a brand, he’s also building productive habits for his mind, body, and spirit. And it’s that spirit that we captured on Episode 8 of the Agents of Innovation podcast, (which can be found on iTunes or Stitcher). Darrian did not let tearing his ACL in college stop him from pursuing his hoop dreams.
And his advice to you? If you have an idea of something you want to pursue, “Don’t wait too long – go ahead and get started because you’re never going to be 100% ready,” said Freeman. “Go ahead and jump in the water.”